Wednesday, 24 March 2021

LOW VOTER REGISTERED VOTER NUMBERS HEADACHE FOR MATEBELELAND

MATABELELAND provinces risk having fewer constituencies and wards when the delimitation exercise kicks-off as some areas have low numbers of registered voters.

This comes at a time the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has lifted the suspension of voter registration which will continue on April 1 around the country. Bulawayo has 12 constituencies, while Matabeleland North and South both have 13 each.

Conducted by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, delimitation is the process of dividing the country into constituencies and wards for the purposes of elections of persons to constituency seats in the National Assembly and councillors to local authorities. The process is carried out in terms of sections 160 and 161 of the Constitution.

Delimitation involves coming up with a minimum threshold of registered voters to make the country’s 210 National Assembly constituencies, and is conducted using the number of registered voters in an administrative jurisdiction.

The threshold, according to Zec commissioner Dr Qhubani Moyo is plus or minus 24 000 registered voters, but some constituencies in Bulawayo and Matabeleland are way below this.

Addressing a discussion on the impact of recalls on democracy and civil participation at Bulawayo Club organised by Women Institute for Leadership Development on Tuesday, Dr Moyo encouraged citizens to register to vote.

“There are many constituencies here in Bulawayo and in Matabeleland in general that have fewer numbers of people than the acceptable minimum level. In the last election, if I’m not wrong it was plus or minus 24 000. But here you have a lot of constituencies that are standing at 14 000 or 16 000 or 18 000. So, we must ensure that they push the registration agenda so that when the time comes there is adequate retention of the constituencies in Matabeleland,” said Dr Moyo.

Dr Moyo said before the 2018 elections, Zec conducted biometric voter registration (BVR), but the numbers in Bulawayo were not pleasing.

“We did carry out a blitz and we did go out to all communities so that people register. Unfortunately, when it came to Bulawayo, the numbers weren’t exciting. I’m no longer sure whether people weren’t registering or whether registration that is there could be reflective of the population that is there in Bulawayo.

“I think probably as a civil society you can do certain approaches to try and find out using other enumeration measures to see. No matter how you try to register, people don’t register, perhaps they are voter apathetic,” said Dr Moyo.

The registration centre in Bulawayo situated at Windsor Park, behind Gifford High School, Dr Moyo said, is open for continuous registration.

Meanwhile, Zec chief elections officer, Mr Utloile Silaigwana said by-elections remain banned, while there are 39 vacancies in the legislature and 81 in local authority wards.

“The Commission is advising all citizens who qualify to register as voters and those wishing to transfer their registration, to visit voter registration centres at Zec provincial and district centres. Everyone involved in those electoral activities should strictly observe the Ministry of Health’s Covid-19 health measures and the Commission’s Covid-19 Policy on Electoral Activities. The policy can be downloaded from the Commission’s website www.zec.org.zw,” read the statement.

In the policy, any person seeking to be registered will be subjected to temperature check, wearing a mask and sanitising before entry on the Zec premises.

Zec also says the biometric registration kit will be disinfected before use by the next person. Chronicle

 

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