By Buhle Tshavango.
The ongoing mapping exercise by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission council has reignited a long standing debate on the boundary lines separating Mazowe and Mount Pleasant.
Social media was awash with rumours that Mount Pleasant was now under Mazowe rural as placed by the mapping process, a move that many viewed as a blatant attempt at vote rigging as we approach the 2018 harmonised elections.
The two constituencies which are reportedly demarcated by a single road have for a while been a bone of contention after claims by former Mount Pleasant Member of Parliament for MDC-T Jameson Timba in 2013 that the boundaries had been altered in favour of current MP Jason Passade.
Crisis in Zimbabwe coalition triggered the debate by posting a statement online headlined-Election watch,
“In a surprising move that has left many baffled by the recently completed Zimbabwe Election Commission delimitation exercise, Mount Pleasant now falls under Mazowe South, a rural constituency serviced by Mazowe Rural District. The move defies logic for an urban constituency that is serviced by Harare City Council. In previous years analysts have argued that the Zimbabwe Election Commission works in cohorts with the ruling ZANU PF to dilute the urban vote which is a stronghold of the opposition in Zimbabwe”, read the post.
Most of the stands built in Mount Pleasant heights are said to actually be land under Mazowe rural and this has created polling station confusion.
MP for Mazowe South Hon Fortune Chasi said there had been no official communication on the developments except speculations.
“I have not seen anything official on this matter. All I have heard are hearsay stories around it. However, yesterday I spoke to the MP for Mt Pleasant who advised me that the area is the farming area which includes ART farm and its precincts.
“Assuming that that is the case, I see no difficulty whatsoever in handling the matter. They fit in very well with the surrounding areas as opposed to the purely urban areas of Mt Pleasant” said Hon Chasi.
MP for Mount Pleasant Honourable Passade admitted that they were a few areas that had been affected.
“Those are just rumours purporting that Mount Pleasant now falls under Mazowe rural, only Mount Pleasant heights and Kaduku farm were affected”, he said.
The people of Kaduku farm had previously been incorporated into ward 17 of Mount Pleasant after an alleged shift of boundary lines. In terms of the Constitution the electoral boundaries for the 2013 National Assembly harmonised elections were as defined in the 2008 elections.
In 2013 Tendai Biti then MDC-T secretary general claimed to have witnessed blatant vote rigging in Mount Pleasant after people were reportedly bussed in from rural areas to cast their votes in the Mount Pleasant constituency. A video that went viral during this period showed people sleeping in buses whilst clutching travel bags. Most of them failed to identify which part of Mount Pleasant they resided in.
Arguments have risen over Mount Pleasant being a stand -alone constituency with most arguing that it is too small and has to be incorporated with nearby polling stations during election periods.