Zimbabwe opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has expressed fears that Zanu-PF could have started rigging next year’s election using the latest “fictitious” voters’ roll.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday said the voters’ roll shows significant reductions or marginal increases of registered voters in urban constituencies between 2000 and 2004, as well as dramatic increases in rural areas.
As a result, Harare and Bulawayo could lose seats during the ongoing delimitation exercise, he said. The two biggest cities, which are controlled by the MDC, lost constituencies during the demarcation of boundaries in 2000.
The voters’ roll shows that in May 2000, Bulawayo had a total of 357Â 281 registered voters and eight constituencies, but now it has 339Â 101 voters. This indicates a loss of 18Â 180 voters.
With the number of registered voters estimated at 5,6-million nationwide, on average each of the 120 constituencies should have 47Â 000 voters.
Bulawayo is therefore likely to have seven seats, instead of eight.
The city is controlled by the MDC. Zanu-PF does not have even a council ward in Bulawayo.
Harare had 795Â 059 registered voters in 2000 and now has 831Â 935, an increase of 36Â 876. During delimitation, however, Harare — which has 19 seats — could lose one or two constituencies.
Tsvangirai said this is surprising given that the 2002 population census showed a population increase, particularly in Harare. He said the present voters’ roll should be audited to prevent electoral fraud.
“This confirms our view that the voters’ roll is deeply flawed and is used to commit electoral fraud,” he said.
“There has been political violence and intimidation but the manipulation of the voters’ roll has been the most common instrument of vote-rigging.”
While registered voters decreased in urban constituencies, they dramatically increased in rural provinces. The MDC won nearly all urban seats in 2000 and liquidated Zanu-PF. The ruling party was banished to the rural areas.
Manicaland, which is largely rural, has registered the highest increase of registered voters. It had 577Â 398 voters in 2000 but now has 684Â 155, an increase of 106Â 757. The province, which has 14 constituencies, might gain one seat.
Zanu-PF currently has six MPs. The MDC has seven and Zanu (Ndonga) has one. However, Zanu-PF is hoping to retain most of its former rural seats.
Mashonaland Central, Zanu-PF’s purported stronghold, has gained significantly. It had 418Â 277 registered voters in 2000 but now has 490Â 222. Mashonaland East had 506Â 817 voters in 2000 and now has 605Â 390; Mashonaland West had 502Â 964 voters and now has 593Â 021.
Voters increased in Masvingo from 593Â 778 to 676Â 686, in Matabeleland North from 317Â 405 to 341Â 228, in Matabeleland South from 319Â 015 to 340Â 709 and in Midlands from 658Â 422 to 746Â 046.
This means that Matabeleland South might lose a seat, and Mashonaland West could gain one during the drawing up of constituency boundaries.
The MDC has also expressed concern about the composition of the Delimitation Commission, sworn in by President Robert Mugabe last month. It said the commission is dominated by Zanu-PF functionaries and could be used for gerrymandering.
“In these circumstances, I demand an immediate independent audit of the voters’ roll to rectify the grave anomalies prior to the delimitation work,” Tsvangirai said. “I have instructed my legal team to consider legal action on the issue.” — Zimbabwe Independent