Less than 30 people in the Bulawayo Metropolitan Province have so far come forward to register as voters in the 2023 polls after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) resumed the exercise on April 1 following the government’s relaxation of Covid-19 lockdown measures.
Prior to polls, the electoral body will carry out the delimitation exercise to determine the number of voters per constituency based on the number of registered voters, a development likely to see some constituencies being merged should they fall short of the set threshold.
ZEC Bulawayo provincial elections officer, Innocent Ncube, told CITE that it was regrettable Bulawayo residents were not coming forward to register.
“It is just a non-starter. Right now we have had 61 days for April and May plus the nine for today (Wednesday). We had about 70 days and there is just less than 30 people [who have registered] and we cannot say there are registered voters; there is none. Voter registration is very, very low because on average we can say it is at zero in that in a month we can register just a single person. You cannot say there is registration going on. People just need to be told that there is no registration taking place.”
The provincial elections officer urged politicians to encourage residents to go and register, adding Bulawayo risked losing some constituencies as a result of the low number of registered voters.
“People have to come and register, again for politicians, it is their role to encourage people to come and register and if they don’t they are going to lose constituencies,” said Ncube.
“We are likely to lose two or three constituencies looking at current registered voter population. What you must bear in mind is that the delimitation is determined by the national number of registered voters. What we do is: we take the national number of registered voters, we divide by 210 to get the average number of voters per constituency.”
Ncube further explained: “That average is the one that determines which constituencies meet that criteria. Let’s say for the purposes of hypothesising, the average is 25, 000 per constituency, we will take 20 percent up and 20 percent down. The 20 percent of 25, 000 is about 5,000. We will then say 25, 000 minus 5, 000 which is 20, 000. We will then say 25, 000 plus 5,000 because it has 20 percent up and 20 percent down, it then goes to 30, 000. So our range will be 20 to 30 thousand.”
He further elaborated: “You would discover that some of our constituencies in Bulawayo have 17, 000 while others have 18, 000 and 13, 000 and obviously those constituencies with such low numbers are dissolved. That is why I am saying between two are three constituencies are going to be lost at the current number of registered voters.”
He said would-be voters should come to ZEC provincial offices at Windsor Park in Famona, where he said there are four registration points, arguing the electorate should not use the use of only one registration centre in the province as an excuse for not coming forward.
“Yes, there is one registration centre,” he said.
“We have registration points there. Whoever wants to register would make it a point to come to Famona and register. That’s why I am saying politicians have a role to play to encourage people to come and register. The media also has got a role of encouraging people to come and register.”