2023 electoral blow for MDC as Zanu PF gets head start

ZANU PF strongholds in Midlands, Mashonaland West, East and Manicaland provinces, which noted a high concentration of registered voters in the 2018 elections, are set to gain a combined nine constituencies in the 2023 elections, Zim Morning Post has learnt. 

A delimitation exercise is set to be carried out by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) based on the 2018 voter population but Zim Morning Post is reliably informed that a number of constituencies are set to be increased given the voter registration patterns in the 2018 elections. 

ZEC’s aggregated bio-metric voter registration (BVR) statistics show there was a higher voter registration turnout in rural areas – traditional ruling party strongholds. 

In the 2018 elections Midlands had 717 510 registered voters, Manicaland (66 943), Mashonaland West (611 751) Mashonaland East (585 198) and Masvingo (583 599), accounted for over 60 percent of registered voters, while Bulawayo had only 211 276 registered voters.

Opposition strongholds recorded the least number of voter registrants and are set to lose big ahead of the 2023 elections.  

“Given the statistics of voters Matebeleland provinces will lose eight. Mashonaland Central will gain one, Mashonaland West will gain two two, Manicaland will gain three, Masvingo will gain two, Midlands will gain two. In essence Zanu PF strongholds will get more constituencies,” an impeccable source told the Zim Morning Post. 

The re-organisation of electoral boundaries will undoubtedly cast the cat among the pigeons in as far as the 2023 election is concerned.
In Zimbabwe electoral boundaries are a critical factor of the electoral outcome. Zimbabwe is divided into 210 National Assembly constituencies, 1 958 wards and 60 senatorial seats. 
Domestic elections-observer group ZESN noted that since the last delimitation there have been internal displacements and migration that has affected the sizes of constituencies, some are too big and some are too small.

“Problems identified with previous delimitation processes have included; lack of transparency; lack of stakeholder consultation and participation; inadequate publicity; independence of the previous Delimitation Commission; and, inadequate time for the delimitation process,” ZESN noted in their research on the delimitation of electoral boundaries from January 2019 to March 2019.

“The importance of demarcating boundaries is important in ensuring fair representation of the electorate. Delimitation is a technical process hence it is important that it is understood by all stakeholders. It is imperative that principles of the delimitation process which include; impartiality, equality of the vote, non-discrimination, representatives and transparency are embedded in the legal framework, process and procedures of delimitation of electoral boundaries,” ZESN added.

In the past, there have been allegations of manipulation of electoral boundaries. Questions sent to the ZEC chairperson Priscilla Chigumba in regards to what the commission is doing to change perceptions, that the process is flawed and subject to manipulation, hit a snag as she had not yet responded by the time of publishing.

The perceptions have been fueled by general lack of trust of the institution involved in spearheading the process.

In terms of the Constitution and the Electoral Laws, delimitation is conducted every 10 years after a population census. The last population census was held in August 2012, and the next census will be in August 2022. 

The last delimitation was conducted in 2008, before the harmonised elections. Several election watchdogs contend that Zimbabwe’s electoral field requires an exhaustive overhaul for them to pass the credibility test.