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Polls: Land grabs haunt Zanu PF

Local News

LAND grabs in urban areas by barons linked to Zanu PF appear to have backfired, with the ruling party saying the on-going delimitation exercise could lead to an increase in constituencies in cities and towns seen as opposition strongholds.

Since 2000, when the opposition MDC garnered the majority of the country’s urban seats, the ruling party has been accused of turning a blind eye to land barons who have been parcelling out State land to homeseekers and creating illegal settlements to shore up support for Zanu PF party in urban areas.

According to a survey conducted by Zanu PF’s lands and resettlement department, there are slightly more than 256 new housing settlements in Harare metropolitan province, raising concern in ruling party corridors that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) delimitation exercise could increase the number of constituencies in urban arrears.

The settlements allegedly comprise an estimated four million new housing stands outside the original suburbs such as Highfield, Borrowdale, Mbare, Mufakose, Greendale, Mabvuku, Waterfalls, Kambuzuma and others.

“It was determined from the survey that the huge number of opposition members that bought stands in these new housing settlements, might end up making it possible for the creation of new urban constituencies, especially here in Metropolitan Harare province, where the opposition is strongest, resulting in losses in rural constituencies, where the (Zanu PF) party is strongest. That phenomenon might end up prejudicing the party in its strongholds,” the report read.

The ruling party’s central committee report blames land barons linked to Zanu PF for selling land to opposition supporters, increasing chances for the creation of more constituencies in urban areas.

According to Zec, Harare metropolitan has the highest number of registered voters, while Matabeleland South has the least.

The report shows that Harare metropolitan had 952 520 registered voters followed by Midlands with 763 028 and Manicaland (738 627).

Zimbabwe Election Advocacy Trust director Ignatius Sadziwa told NewsDay that registered voters’ figures indicate that more constituencies were expected in Harare.

“Figures don’t lie. Harare will likely have four or five more constituencies using the benchmark figure of 26 000 voters per constituency,” he said.

Election Resource Centre’s legal and advocacy officer Takunda Tsunga said delimitation should not be manipulated to favour any particular political party.

“The failure to adhere to constitutional principles guiding delimitation when carrying out the process results in marginalised groups or vulnerable communities having less opportunity than other registered voters to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice,” Tsunga said.

Election expert Moses Chibaya said: “In Harare, we have areas like Epworth and Harare South which have tripled their voting population over the past decade. It is only logical to increase constituencies in those areas.”

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