There will be an early population census allowing a new delimitation of constituencies by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) before the 2023 harmonised elections after President Mnangagwa approved the Census and Statistics Amendment Act yesterday.
The amendment Act brings the census forward from 2022 to before July next year to give ZEC time to delimit all 210 constituency boundaries for the presidential, parliamentary and local government elections using up-to-date census data as required by the Constitution.
The signing into law of the Act was announced by the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda in a Government Gazette recently.
The coming into effect of the law means ZEC will delimitate the 210 constituency seats for 2023 polls in a manner that reflects the present population distribution premised on latest census data.
Parliament passed the law without amendments in July this year.
Constituencies are supposed to be of equal size, within modest limits caused by provincial and district boundaries, but continual movement of people changes the distribution.
Since the last delimitation, land reform has seen major re-distribution of rural populations, with some constituencies having huge numbers, while the continuous rural-to-urban migration has seen many urban constituencies growing.
Presenting the Bill in Senate last month, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi, said the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) should conclude the population census by July next year, instead of 2022 to allow ZEC enough time to use the information to delimit constituencies for the 2023 harmonised elections.
Minister Ziyambi said in terms of the law, delimitation of electoral boundaries must be completed less than six months before polling day in a general election, and if that failed to happen, boundaries that existed before the delimitation would be applicable.
He said in the absence of the proposed law, Zimbabwe faced an “undesirable” prospect of using the same electoral boundaries used in the 2013 election for two reasons.
“The first is that the next census is only due to be completed in 2022. Even if all the data for 2022 was availed timeously, that still brings us uncomfortably close within the range of six months of the next election in 2023,” he said.
“Secondly, ZEC will simply not have the time to do the consultation, produce the report and table it before Parliament its preliminary and final delimitation reports to enable Parliament and the President to properly consider them. Remember also that voter registration is done on a continuous basis by ZEC.”