READ: ZEC Delimitation Report submissions by Tendai Biti
Parliament of Zimbabwe
This is the full ZEC Delimitation Report submissions by Harare East legislator Tendai Laxton Biti Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) in Parliament on Tuesday 17 January 2023.
HON. BITI: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. What we are doing is to consider the Ad hoc Committee that presented its report on 13th January, 2022. Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that we adopt that report and I move that consistent with the provisions of Section 161 (8) (b), this House resolves that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission must reconsider its preliminary report on the basis of the issues and the recommendations that have been made by the Ad hoc Committee. I move that we make that resolution that ZEC should reconsider its interim report on the basis of the findings of the Ad Hoc Committee, that is the constitutional position. Mr. Speaker, the test of whether ZEC did a good job was always going to be measured on three issues. Firstly, procedurally, when they were making the report, did they follow the law? Secondly, whether the interim report is loyal to the principles that are defined in Section 161 (5) and (6), and thirdly and perhaps most importantly, whether the data supports the findings and recommendations in the interim report.
On three scores, on all the three, ZEC failed and failed dismally. On the first procedural issue, ZEC failed to consider the final report of the census and this point is made in the Ad Hoc report. There is a core-relationship between the task of delimitation and the population. That is why Section 160 makes it clear that every 10 years soon after the conclusion of a census there must be delimitation. When you look at the ZEC processes, there is no marriage, there is no nexus, and there is no connection between the interim report and the population.
If you go to Section 161 (VI) in dividing Zimbabwe into wards and constituencies, ZEC must in respect of any area, give consideration to the following features, physical features, the means of communication, the geographical distribution of registered voters and its population. ZEC did not consider the population; they published a list sometime last headed delimitation of constituencies, wards and other electoral boundaries, national provincial and local authority voter registration figures. It was produced in terms of section 161(VI) signed by ZEC Chairperson P. Chigumba and it has a total registered voters of 5 800 376 000 yet this document does not give a provincial, a constituency disaggregation of the population in each of these constituencies and provinces because that is a constitutional imperator. That is failure number one on procedural issues.
Failure number two in procedural issue relates to the failure to produce even to the Ad Hoc Committee, a copy of the voters’ roll that they used. We are just told without verification, without authentification, without validation that the total number of registered voters is 5.8 but the actual voters’ roll itself has not been given.
The third procedural issue picked up in the report is the failure to consult citizens. The Committee report refers to Section 68 of the Constitution. Section 68 codifies the audi alteram partem rule. The rule simply means the right to be heard; ZEC did not consult citizens. ZEC did not consult constituencies, so ZEC produced a report without any paternity, any legitimacy vis-a-vis the citizens. So these things are well made in the report presented by Hon. Togarepi. They failed on procedural issues.
The second issue is whether they paid respect to the factors that are defined in Section 161 (VI), if you look at the areas that were most affected by constituency collapse – Harare, Gutu, Masvingo, Manicaland, Mashonaland East and so forth, the process is autocratic, the process is not based on any formula, it is laying playing tennis with a changing baseline; I know the Australian Open is on right now. When you play tennis with a changing baseline, sometimes you are returning pane space hombe, sometimes you are returning padhuze. In law we call it eclectic, in law we call it cutting and pasting. That is what they did; there is no consistent adherence to a known formula.
I submit Mr. Speaker Sir, that the starting point – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – the starting point…
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MUTOMBA): What is your point of order?
HON. T. MLISWA: Are the Hon. Members clapping hands on the language used; I am not sure – [Laughter.]-
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, please go ahead with your debate.
HON. BITI: Mr. Speaker Sir, the starting point must be data. ZEC says the total number of registered voters is 5.8 and ZEC gives a disaggregation of these numbers; the exact figure is 5 804 306 and they give the disaggregated figures as of the 30th May 2022. Bulawayo Metropolitan Province 270 000, Harare 952 000, Manicaland 738 000, Mashonaland Central 536 000, Mashonaland East 641 000, Mashonaland West 661 000, Masvingo 632 000, Matabeleland North 340 000, Matabeleland South 267 000, Midlands 762 000; there are 210 constituencies. So if you divide 210 constituencies into 5.8 it gives you a figure of 27 640 000 The Constitution starting point is that constituencies must be equal, that means the starting point by ZEC should be that every constituency of the 210 must have 27 640 000. When you now go to what they did, even constituencies that were above 30 000 were being collapsed, even constituencies that were bigger than those that were collapsed into were collapsed.
So there is no consistent formula – kwava kukanda hakata nezvinhu zvinofanira kuitwa pa data. That is not good enough Mr. Speaker. As the Committee says in the report, the 20% rule was misinterpreted; the 20% rule is now 27 640%. What ZEC did not do is that they have got a low figure of 22 000 and an upper figure of 34 000. If you subtract 34 000 minus 22 000, you get a variation of 50% when the constitutional limit is 20%. What they must do is to go back to the drawing board, divide the 5.8, marry it with the population and come up with a figure of 27 640. So every constituency now has 27 640 plus or minus but the minus is minus 10 going up, minus 10 going down so that you remain loyal to 20%, and they can do that.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Your time is almost up Hon. Member.
HON. BITI: If you do that Mr. Speaker, it means all the funny games and all the shenanigans that ZEC did, for whatever reason, will go away. Let us be loyal to data, let us be loyal to the figures, and let us be loyal to the statistics. If we do that we are home and dry. They have got time; the law says the report must be done six months before and the six months end on the 28th February 2023. I submit, if they do that desk top process they should be able to complete.
I want to come and give an example of the anomalies…
HON. CHIKWINYA: On a point of order Hon. Speaker.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: What is your point of order?
HON. CHIKWINYA: I move that the Hon. Members time be extended by 10 minutes.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: It cannot be extended unfortunately, I am being guided.
HON. BITI: Thank you. Hon. Speaker Sir, the report does justice to Mashonaland East and Chivhu. The report does justice to Gutu, Binga, Metro Gutu ya Hon. Nduna. I want to add the atrocities in Harare. So for starters, the report says there are 45 wards in Harare when there are 46 wards. Once you start on that basis Mr. Speaker, watodzirasa, you are off side completely because you are doing guess work.
Secondly Mr. Speaker Sir, when you divide the population of Harare which is 952 102 and you use that formula where you divide into 210, it means Harare must actually get 34 seats, instead it is stuck at 30 and one of the anomalies in Harare is that you have got wards, the average councillor in Harare is representing 15 000 people. So the principle of equality is destroyed and destroyed completely.
I want to come to my own constituency Harare East. Harare East comprises currently of three wards – Ward 46 which was totally ignored by ZEC. I do not know what happened to it, it just disappeared. So you have got Ward 46 which disappeared completely then you are now left with Ward 9 and Ward 8. Ward 9 is Greendale, Mandara area. Ward 8 which has got 16 000 people consists of Highlands and Newlands. What does ZEC do in its wisdom or more appropriately in its lack of wisdom, they take Ward 8 and throw it in Harare South, Churu. How does it happen Mr. Speaker? Can you picture Highlands, Chisipite and you place it at the Masvingo tollgate – [Laughter.] – The people of Highlands do not have any geographical communication; they have no common interest with the people in Churu Farm. So the description says you stand by a corner and then go to a stream without a name and then the red house and then you move – it does not make sense Mr. Speaker.
So to be very polite, ZEC did a disastrous job and the Chairman was very soft in his report. It was very diplomatic in his report but the truth of the matter is that it was a disastrous report if the truth be told. So now what we are saying Mr. Speaker, is that this House must resolve that ZEC must reconsider based on the issues that are raised in our report and that the starting point must be the population, the starting point must be equality. Divide 5.8 by 210, get 27 000 then you can play a bit now, just a bit on the 20% and 20% is not 40%, 20% is 20%. I thank you very much Hon. Speaker Sir.