Residents of Mount Pleasant heights have been left in confusion over their exact constituency after a mapping exercise by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission raised eyebrows in what some are calling a possible case of gerrymandering.
Gerrymandering is when the boundaries of an electoral constituency are manipulated so as to favour one party or class.
The mapping exercise formed part of the preparations for the 2018 elections and has reignited a long standing debate over demarcation lines separating Mount Pleasant from Mazowe.
Concerned residents have called in assistance from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), and threatened to sue ZEC should they be assigned to Mazowe rural constituency.
Director for the Election Resource Council Tawanda Chimhini says the results of the mapping exercise are yet to be made public, but the probability of Mount Pleasant heights now falling under Mazowe rural is possible.
“I cannot comment fully as of now as ZEC is yet to release the full mapping exercise results to the public but what I can say as of now is that Harare has been growing over the years and expanding over previous boundary lines.
“It is possible that some of Mount Pleasant has expanded into Mazowe, the same way parts of Harare north have grown into Domboshava or Harare East into Goromonzi. The debate can only be finalised when the last map is published,” said Chimhini.
Chimhini further explained that the existing boundaries were drawn on the basis of the last delimitation exercise done in 2007 in preparation of the 2013 elections.
“These are existing electoral boundaries, what ZEC is doing is not moving boundaries as legally it cannot do so,” he said.
Whilst Mount Pleasant heights is said to have been built on a farm originally under Mazowe rural, properties there pay rates to City of Harare, and their inhabitants identify as residents of the capital city.
“There may be a need to revisit the whole process of delimitation as we can’t be waiting a whole 10 years for a new delimitation. There is need for alignment of processes “, said Chimhini.
Member of Parliament for Mazowe East, Fortune Chasi of Zanu PF, said he had not followed up on this development as he had not seen any statutory instrument on the demarcation.
“There has to be delimitation first and it hasn’t happened, I am yet to receive formal communication”, he explained.
Jason Passade (Zanu PF), MP for Mount Pleasant echoed the same sentiments saying ZEC had the final say and all they had to go on for now was rumours.
“Not all of Mount Pleasant Heights is now under Mazowe, and I myself am still waiting for official communication, whenever we call they say they will release the map, for now I cannot say”, he said.
Ranganai Chafeta a resident of Mount Pleasant Heights said he had heard of the move of their area to Mazowe rural via social media.
“I only got to know of this through a Facebook debate, no one consulted us, we are not prepared to be labelled under Mazowe rural even if it is an electoral boundary or what”, said an agitated Chafeta.
ZEC however insists that they will stick to the old delimitation boundaries.
“There is no exercise current, immediate or past to delimit Mazowe south or Harare North , all boundaries remain the same as they were after the delimitation report of 2008”, said ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau.
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