A ZIMBABWE Electoral Commission (ZEC) official said the final Delimitation Report would be gazetted Monday as the farce over the demarcation of constituency boundaries for this year’s crunch elections continues.
However, no presentation of the report was made to President Emmerson Mnangagwa who flew to Bulawayo en-route Lupane for the National Youth Day commemorations which are scheduled for Tuesday.
Speaking an event in Harare where the Japanese government donated US$1.4m to the electoral body, ZEC deputy chairperson Simukai Kiwa said the final delimitation report would be gazetted on Monday.
“We are grateful for the financial assistance which is coming at a critical time as preparations for the 2023 harmonised elections are being undertaken,” said Kiwa.
“And I can say to you that the gazette will be coming out sometime this afternoon on the delimitation.”
But a senior government official maintained to newzimbabwe.com that ZEC was yet to present the final delimitation report to President Mnangagwa.
“Nothing in particular,” the official said when asked what issues were delaying gazetting of the report.
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“We just want her (ZEC chairperson Priscilla Chigumba) to submit the Final Report to the President. We have no particular concerns which we can call a ‘deal breaker’.
“The constitution says ZEC’s decision is final and we are at peace with that. So is the President who has expressed same to her. She should submit their FINAL Report for gazetting. That’s it.”
Asked whether the Final Report should have addressed concerns raised by stakeholders including Parliament and the President, the official said; “whether they choose to address or not; it’s neither here nor there. It’s their decision. The 14 Day clock starts when they submit their FINAL Report the President. That has not been done yet.”
Carried out once every ten years and following a census, Delimitation is the process of dividing the country into constituencies and wards for purposes of elections to constituency seats in the National Assembly and of councillors to local authorities. The process is carried out in terms of sections 160 and 161 of the new Constitution.
In terms of the law, after delimiting wards and constituencies, the ZEC must submit a preliminary report to the President.
ZEC’s preliminary report was condemned across the political divide with some of its own commissioners also dissociating themselves from the document.
Mnangagwa and Parliament submitted their concerns over the preliminary report to ZEC and the commission’s chair has since presented its response to those concerns to the President.
The ZEC chair appeared to suggest she had presented the FINAL report when giving Mnangagwa the commission’s preliminary document on February 3, resulting in confusion since, the Constitution states that;
“Within fourteen days after receiving the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s finalreport, the President must publish a proclamation in the Gazette declaring the names and boundaries of the wards and constituencies as finally determined by the Commission.”
The opposition has been quick to claim that Mnangagwa was in breach of the Costitution by failing to gazette the delimitation report within 14 days after the Febraury 3 presentation.
However, a Twitter handle believed to be run by Presidential spokesperson George Charamba retorted; “I see ignorant comments on TWITTER on the FINAL DELIMITATION REPORT which is yet to be submitted to His Excellency the President for gazetting.Whoever thinks the President has broken the law is free to invoke the legal route provided for by the Constitution”
Commenting on the saga, lawyer David Hofisi said on Twitter; “Was the 3 February event a submission of the Final Report, or a compilation of the rationale for ZEC’s approach … or both? This is not a question of law – it is a question of fact contingent on authoritative testimony by the relevant parties.
“Ergo: ZEC must believe it submitted the Final Report, which the President does not gazette, to support claims of that 161(11) was breached. This authoritative statement is vital. If the Pres (ident) believes he is yet to receive the report, claims of a breach become even weaker.”
He continued; “Since ZEC was attacked for allegedly producing a ‘shoddy’ document, one would presume the response to their handling of parliamentary & presidential feedback to be that of greater scrutiny since the preliminary report was subject of bipartisan condemnation.
“Instead, there’s been a radical turnaround, w newfound confidence in, & deference towards, the same body whose preliminary report resulted in accusations of rigging gerrymandering, malapportionment and misinterpretation of the Constitution.
“In other words, the calls for immediate gazetting are not informed by satisfaction regarding the delimitation process or the report thereof, but a rigid interpretation of procedural requirements which Lord Wilberforce called the austerity of tabulated legalism.”