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Political notes on inevitable court challenges against Zimbabwe’s Draft Delimitation Report

Dear Reader,

It seems Zimbabwe’s controversial draft delimitation report will end up in the courts of law (not my favourite route) from various people in order to decide its validity based on either process and or outcome.

In case some legal cases against the draft delimitation report will focus on outcome issues, I am inclined to add one political dimension.

It is simply a caution on the use of appropriate political concepts.

I focus on only two concepts that I think will become critical namely (a) GERRYMANDERING and (b) MALAPPORTIONMENT.

In my view, if any legal challenge is going to place GERRYMANDERING at the centre it is easier for such a case to crumble like a deck of cards. Why? Reader, GERRYMANDERING involves drawing constituencies and wards to shape the electoral outcome in favour of a particular political party or contestant. So this approach will require the applicant to prove the cited electorate’s voting preference.

This is because the issue will be about the swapping of potential voters between constituencies and wards to achieve a particular partisan outcome. I know I use gerrymandering in my articles on the delimitation report but it is because I have evidence through studying voter inclinations in most constituencies in Zimbabwe.

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Reader, but even that scientific knowledge can easily be rendered useless in Zimbabwe’s higher courts proven to be largely beholden to the executive (hence not my favourite path) especially when it comes to rulings that concern the saddle of state power.

On the other end, a legal case based on MALAPPORTIONMENT is relatively easier to sustain in a court of law. But what is it? This is the condition in which the electoral provinces, constituencies or wards in the preliminary delimitation report have differing ratios of voters to representatives.

This is easier to prove. After all the draft report falters on this in many ways. To illustrate, how can one convincingly justify that Masvingo province with 632 320 registered voters has only 4 constituencies less than Harare province with 952 102 registered voters.

Reader, as per this draft delimitation report, what is the worth of a voter in Harare to that of a voter in Masvingo? This brings to the fore the principle of political equality as a prerequisite for modern representative democracy enshrined in the constitution.

Even the liberation struggle espoused this principle of equality in the value of a vote through the one person one vote philosophy. Section 161 of the constitution upholds this sacrosanct principle of political equality. Failure to observe it in any polity has several practical electoral and economic consequences the morning after. A relief to seek could easily be reapportionment or the equalization for representation across the country’s 10 provinces.

But Reader, given the novel complexity of any malapportionment case to Zimbabwe and how difficult it is to come up with an adequate metric method for measuring differences in apportionment court cases will require not only lawyers but other trained minds like political scientists and political geographers.

This should also include experts who mathematically understand measuring parliamentary and ward malapportionment and those who know the real statistics of malapportionment.

A collective will make it easier to understand the maximisation of population equality, denseness, and propinquity amongst other things in order to sustain a desirable argument that can at least officially put on record the need for fair reapportionment.

So reader, clarity on political concepts will become key to inevitable legal cases against the draft report and this will require a mix of skills. Well, we have to end here.