Zec in dire financial straits
THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is facing severe resource constraints, making it difficult for it to accomplish its mandate of mapping boundaries of polling stations in preparation for the 2018 general elections.
The nationwide mapping exercise within the 1 958 wards commenced on September 30.
It is designed to make it easier for the commission to count votes and do its administrative work.
Zec chief elections officer Mrs Constance Chigwamba said inadequate resources and outdated maps, among other challenges were making it difficult for the commission to effectively carry out the exercise.
“Zec is constrained by inadequate resources, ageing vehicles, which constantly break down, outdated maps to show the general areas and absence of street names in urban areas.
“The commission also has a small pool of technical experts, which include cartographers, surveyors and GIS specialists in the various local authorities. This results in the teams moving from one district to the other,” said Mrs Chigwamba.
The chief elections officer said mapping involves demarcating of polling station specific areas.
She added that Zec had so far managed to create polling station specific areas in 54 out of 65 districts.
“The mapping exercise, which is conducted nationwide by Zec commenced on September 30, 2016. The exercise takes cognisance of the existing ward boundaries as provided in the 2008 delimitation report.
“To date, Zec has managed to create polling station specific areas in 54 districts out of 65 districts used by Zec countrywide for administrative purposes,” said Mrs Chigwamba.
The first part of the exercise, she added, is expected to be completed by the end of this month.
“This phase provides the necessary field data that describes the polling station specific area boundaries to facilitate the development of maps,” she said.
She said after the mapping exercise, a voter will only appear on one polling station within a ward.
“Polling station specific voter registers will make it easy for the commission to do it administrative work, since we’ll be focusing on a defined number of voters per polling station.
“A voter will only appear in one polling station within a ward. Counting of votes will become easier and provision of logistics will be enhanced by the polling station specific system.
“Section 22A of the Electoral Act provides for the creation of polling station specific voters’ registration at a date to be fixed by the commission,” said Mrs Chigwamba.
She emphasised the need for mapping, saying it was a precursor to voter registration.
“The created polling station specific areas will form the basis of allocating voters to their respective polling stations during voter registration in line with the commission’s thrust of going polling station specific,” said Mrs Chigwamba.
Zec is also mandated to conduct voter registration, education programmes and elections.
During elections, the financially constrained commission hires helicopters to reach some constituencies not accessible by road.
Mrs Constance Chigwamba