THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has retained Gutu South constituency represented in the National Assembly by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ally Pupurai Togarepi which it had previously collapsed in its preliminary delimitation report.
The collapse of the constituency was strongly condemned by the parliamentary ad hoc committee chaired by Togarepi which was appointed to analyse the report. Togarepi is the Zanu PF chief whip in the National Assembly.
In Zec’s final delimitation report gazetted by Mnangagwa on Monday, Gutu South was brought back on the map of electoral boundaries that will exist for the next 10 years in line with the constitution.
Gutu North constituency, currently represented by Zanu PF’s Yeukai Simbanegavi, was collapsed and merged with other existing constituencies due to a low registered voter population.
The collapsed constituency was then replaced with a new one called Chiredzi Central.
In explaining the collapse of Gutu North constituency and general dynamics in Masvingo province as a whole, Zec chairperson Justice Priscila Chigumba in her foreword captured in the gazetted final delimitation report said: “Gutu North was collapsed and merged with other existing constituencies due to low registered voter population which failed to meet the minimum threshold for a constituency. However the collapsed constituency was replaced by the creation of a new Chiredzi Central Constituency.
“In the same vein Zaka East and Zaka West were collapsed and reconfigured to form a new Zaka South Constituency. One of the collapsed constituencies was replaced by the creation of a new Mwenezi North constituency. In effect the Province retained its previously allocated 26 constituencies.”
In its earlier report tabled by Togarepi in Parliament, the ad hoc committee said Zec misdirected itself in collapsing the Gutu South constituency on the basis that its population did not meet the minimum threshold of 21 000 voters, yet it had in fact higher numbers than neighbouring constituencies. Gutu district is divided into five constituencies: Gutu North, Gutu South, Gutu West and Gutu East and Gutu Central. At the time Zec conducted its delimitation exercise, Gutu South had 18 6453 registered voters, Gutu East 16 822, Gutu North 15 359, and Gutu Central 21 700.
In the Zec preliminary report, Gutu South constituency had been collapsed and merged with other surrounding constituencies on the basis that it had a low registered voter population that failed to meet the minimum threshold to constitute a constituency. However, the parliamentary ad hoc committee said it was unfair to collapse Gutu South constituency when it had higher numbers of voters than surrounding constituencies.
Part of the committee’s report that was tabled in Parliament before being forwarded to Zec said: “Zec pointed out in its report that Gutu South was collapsed because it did not meet the required threshold to make a constituency yet none of the constituencies in Gutu district met the minimum required threshold at the time Zec conducted the delimitation exercise save for Gutu West.
“Gutu South actually had more registered voters than Gutu East and Gutu North at the time Zec conducted its delimitation.”
“Zec was supposed to abide by the principle of fairness and use similar formula which it was using in other provinces, constituencies and wards that those with low registered voters than the others in the same constituency or province would be collapsed to give in to those that had more registered voters as at the time Zec conducted its delimitation exercise.”
As a recommendation, the ad hoc committee said Zec could pile up numbers of voters in Gutu South by bringing in people from two wards in Gutu East and Central.
“Proposal is that Zec should move wards 31 and 41 to Gutu South which were part of Gutu South prior to creation of Gutu East, Central. Alternatively, wards should be drawn from Gutu East which was part of Gutu South previously.”
“Where collapsing of constituencies that had more voters was done to give in to those that had fewer voters, it is the committee’s considered view that Zec should use the same principle of maintaining those with more votes and collapse those with fewer voters,” read the ad hoc committee’s report.