Election watchdog the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has pointed out the fact that commissioners tasked to superintend over the redrawing of electoral boundaries lacked the requisite experience.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is mandated to carry out the delimitation of constituencies and wards after every ten years.
The delimitation process involves the drawing of boundaries for constituencies and wards in order to guarantee that each area is represented by an equal number of people.
Redrawing of electoral boundaries was last carried out in 2007 in preparation for the 2008 elections meaning the 2022 redrawing of electoral boundaries becomes the first after the enactment of the 2013 constitution.
However, the 2022 redrawing exercise was preceded by the swearing in of six ZEC commissioners in who replaced outgoing commissioners whose term had come to an end on 6 July 2022.
The swearing in of the ZEC commissioners namely; Catherine Mpofu, Abigail Millicent Mohadi Ambrose, Jane Mbetu Nzvenga, Kudzai Shava, Rosewita Murutare and Shepard Manhivi was met with outrage as they were accusations that some of the commissioners had links to the ruling party ZanuPF.
A case in point was Commissioner Abigail Millicent Mohadi Ambrose who is a daughter to the former Vice President Kembo Mohadi.
However, this was dismissed owing to the fact that a list of nominees were publicized before the Parliamentary committee conducted interviews.
Additionally, opposition MP’s were also part of the committee that interviewed candidates but did not raise any objection.
Again, other political commentators had alleged that the commissioners were too young to deal with the responsibilities of conducting an election and delimitation suggesting they would be unable to withstand intimidation by those in power.
The latest argument made by ZESN in regard to the commissioners’ inexperience was raised in the Preliminary Report on the Legal and Statistical Analysis of the ZEC Preliminary Delimitation Report in Zimbabwe released by ZESN last Saturday.
“ZEC appointed the majority of its Commissioners in June 2022, and began conducting delimitation soon after.
“This means that there was no experience whatsoever in handling delimitation issues, or in supervising the process.
“The lack of experience and technical capacity suggests that there was an opportunity to use experts and consultants, which may not have been taken by ZEC”, read the report.
Meanwhile, the majority of the ZEC commissioners did not sign the preliminary delimitation report handed over to the President late December 2022 which was not by the parliament report.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that the commissioners refused to sign the preliminary delimitation report.
As a result, ZESN has recommended that an inquiry be undertaken in order to fully understand the supposed protest by other commissioners.
“A full inquiry must be conducted on the ZEC commissioners who signed off a protest against the submission of the Report to the President.
“The protests by these majority commissioners point to ZEC admitting to the fundamental mistakes made in the Report, and the fact that the Report does not meet the constitutional standards.
“Such an inquiry can determine whether ZEC Commissioners were impartial throughout the process,” ZESN added.
The delimitation exercise and report is crucial for the integrity of the elections which are expected to take place between July and August this year.
ZEC has received recommendations from parliament and president Emmerson Mnangagwa and is expected to produce the final report.