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ZESN concerned over ‘short’ census period

by Bustop TV News

By Romio Takundwa

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has expressed concern over the new dates set by the government for the population census and delimitation exercise.

The dates were announced in the latest post cabinet press briefing where government indicated that the country remains on course to conduct the census within the prescribed time frame for the 2023 elections.

“The actual population census is commencing in April 2022, and the results expected in August 2022, paving way for the Constituencies Delimitation in October 2022 with 31 December 2022 being the last day allowed for delimitation,” read the briefing.

The delay in the setting of the dates comes at a time when civil society organisations are pushing for electoral reforms before the next election, and the delimitation process has been identified as one of the key reforms in the electoral cycle with a bearing on the credibility of electoral outcomes.

In its press statement, ZESN said the delay in census and delimitation might render the new boundaries in the next elections as stipulated by the law.

“However, mindful of the provisions of section 161 (2) which postulates that: “If a delimitation of electoral boundaries is completed less than six months before polling day in a general election, the boundaries so delimited do not apply to that election, and instead the boundaries that existed immediately before the delimitation are applicable.”, ZESN is worried that the result of the delimitation may become academic if the exercise is completed six months before the elections, making it impossible for  ZEC to use the drawn boundaries for the harmonised elections scheduled in July 2023,” read the statement.  

ZESN also called for urgency on the impending delimitation exercise in order  to avoid contested election boundaries.

“Boundary delimitation must be open, transparent and inclusive. Citizens and electoral stakeholders must be consulted and involved. However, the three-month window from October to December 2022 during which delimitation will be taking place is too short and too tight and the opportunity to build confidence, trust and ownership of the process, through engagement of citizens and key electoral stakeholders will be lost.

“Compounding the situation is the absence of clarity on the process, what could possibly be done simultaneously with the census, if any, and a predictable boundary delimitation calendar, making it difficult for stakeholders to plan accordingly and contribute meaningfully to the process,” read the statement.

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