With national elections possibly less than 10 weeks off, one grouping of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change has cited "anomalies" in a redistricting report given to parliament Wednesday by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
The first reservations about the report were expressed by the MDC formation led by Arthur Mutambara, which has said it is ready and willing to contest March elections.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa urged parliamentarians to “study the report diligently,” but most members had yet to be issued copies of the full report Thursday, 24 hours after it was officially tabled in the lower house.
The state-controlled Herald newspaper declared that “there is no need for debate over the report as the commission says it has consulted all parties during the preparation of the report," a contention disputed by commission critics.
With 60 house seats being added for a total of 210, metropolitan Harare has been redivided into 29 constituencies, Bulawayo and environs into 12, Midlands into 28, Mashonaland Central 18, Mashonaland East 23, Mashonaland West 22, Masvingo 26, Matebeleland South and Matebeleland North 13 apiece and Manicaland 26.
Those bare numbers raise certain questions immediately, such as whether the largely rural provinces of Manicaland and Masvingo have populations sufficient to justify an allocation nearly as large as the province around Harare, the main urban center.
The introduction to the redistricting or delimitation report says it includes 10 chapters, one for each province in the country, but VOA was unable to locate any sources who had obtained the full report including annexes and maps. Many are concerned that the redistricting may have been politically steered, resulting in gerrymandering.
Spokesman Gabriel Chaibva of the MDC formation led by Arthur Mutambara told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that what his grouping has seen so far indicates that the electoral commission failed to adhere to the terms of last year's 18th constitutional amendment which authorized the redistricting.