Conclusion and Recommendation
It is clear that the delimitation exercise is vital for the integrity of the electoral process. To this extent, delimitation exercise is no longer a closed door process conducted by hired technocrats whose reports are beyond the public eye.
A scrutiny and analysis of the delimitation exercise and the Delimitation Report is in the public interest as it promotes transparency, accountability, citizen information and institutional integrity. Accordingly, in view of the observations made in this Report, the following Recommendations are made:
ZEC must expeditiously and comprehensively address the fundamental flaws pointed in its Preliminary Report so that the Final Report to be gazetted by the President is a true reflection of voter representativeness. What this implies is that ZEC must not ignore the several flaws and inconsistencies pointed by stakeholders, including a special committee of Parliament. In specific terms, ZEC must take into account and consider recommendations from stakeholder consultative process.
ZEC must develop Delimitation Regulations and submit these to Parliament for debate so that several issues not covered in the Constitution are comprehensively provided for and addressed. These issues include the exact meaning and scope of principles for delimitation, the nature of stakeholder consultations, protest or legal redress mechanisms, the meaning of processes such as geo-referencing; digitizing and ground-truthing.
In November 2022, ZESN developed model Delimitation Regulations for submission to ZEC. The Regulations are comprehensive and must be considered by ZEC since they reflect the constitutional standards, but give blood and flesh to the bare bones on delimitation in the Constitution. Further, ZESN drafted a Comprehensive Electoral Amendment Bill and submitted it to Parliament of Zimbabwe for consideration in the amendment of the Electoral Act. This model electoral law has comprehensive provisions on delimitation that are guided by international best practices, including the SADC Principles and Guidelines for Governing Democratic Elections and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. Both the model Delimitation Regulations and the model Electoral Bill are available upon request.
ZEC is urged not to use and adopt the 2007-2008 delimitation report for the 2023 general elections.
The 2008 Report is based on old data, and cannot in any way reflect current voting patterns and representativeness. It is our submission that ZEC has capacity to correct and address the identified errors and mistakes in time for the gazetting of the Final Report for the 2023 general elections.
To instil public confidence and trust in the delimitation process, ZEC should make available the electronic voters’ roll to enable stakeholders to compare the data used by ZEC in compiling the Preliminary Delimitation Report, to the statistics in the voters’ roll.
In future, ZEC must hold the delimitation exercise guided by final census reports, not the preliminary reports, which are yet to be validated.
The Constitution does not explicitly require ZEC to use census data, but states that the delimitation must occur ‘as soon as possible after a population census’. Preliminary reports often contain errors and mistakes that are corrected upon validation and prior to the production of the Final Report. The preliminary census report may not lead to results that reflect reality, thereby distorting representativeness.