MT Pleasant Constituency has remained in place following the recent delimitation of wards and constituencies for the 2023 harmonised elections although residents have expressed concern over the reconfiguration of the seat.
Peter Tanyanyiwa Suburban Reporter
Residents in the constituency say they are puzzled at the demarcation of the constituency into two leaving some to wonder if they were still Mt Pleasant residents or not following the delimitation process.
Others say they have been left to live with the fact that they used to be part of one ward and are now part of another ward.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) recently concluded the delimitation of constituencies and wards and handed over the preliminary delimitation report to President Mnangagwa.
The report is now before Parliament which is expected to debate the report on Friday January 13, 2022 and make recommendations, if there are any to be made, before approval.
During the mobile voter registration blitz last year, Mt Pleasant residents urged each other to register in big numbers to ensure the constituency was retained as it is.
The residents feared if they did not register in adequate numbers, their constituency would be joined to other constituencies which may not have similar interests with those of residents of Ward 17.
A number of areas in Mt Pleasant have been moved to Hatcliffe Constituency (which is currently called Harare North).
These include the area around Bond Shopping Centre, Pomona and Mt Pleasant Heights which together with Hatcliffe Extension now form Hatcliffe Constituency.
Mt Pleasant Heights will now be under Ward 19 having previously been disenfranchised as the residents of the recently built suburb paid their rates in Harare although they were under Mazowe Rural District Council and had their voting rights in Mazowe South Constituency.
When delimiting the wards and constituencies, the ZEC took into consideration population density and distribution, physical features and means of communication, community of interest and existing electoral boundaries.
“As far as possible communities with the same interest were contained in the same ward in line with section 161(6)(d) of the Constitution,” ZEC says in the preliminary report.
However, the electoral body said in some cases it resorted to mixing communities with different interests to meet voter population thresholds.
“To ensure that the constitutional voter population thresholds were met there were instances where the Commission resorted to mixing land uses and communities with different interests.
“For instance, peri-urban, rural and urban communities were combined in a constituency to comply with set thresholds.
“During the delimitation of wards, it was observed that there were several areas whose land use had changed around most urban areas,” reads the report.
Mt Pleasant Heights was listed as one of the suburbs where land use had changed from commercial farming to peri-urban.
Mt Pleasant Member of Parliament Mr Samuel Banda said the constituency has been decimated into two halves and explained how the delimitation process was done and how the ward boundaries now look like.
“This delimitation has totally dismembered, disfigured and made the constituency physically bigger than what it was.
“Borrowdale West and most of Vainona have gone to Harare East. Part of Eastlea North off Samora Machel to Glenara are now a part of Mt Pleasant. Shocking is that the heart of Mt Pleasant, Bond Shopping Centre and even the District Office are now in Ward 19 which is now the bedrock of Hatcliffe Constituency.
“Ward 7 will partly remain intact but has more areas added to it,” said Mr Banda.
Mt Pleasant Constituency comprises of Ward 7 (Avondale) and Ward 17 (Mt Pleasant).
“The new Mt Pleasant Constituency will have a good part of the Avenues while Bond Shopping Centre, Pendennis and North Park will be embedded with Hatcliffe Extension.
“To this end, this MP is unnaturally set to contest in the Hatcliffe Constituency provided Honourable Rusty Markham (current Harare North MP) will not choose to stand there.
“Actually, there has just been a leftward shift of the low density area which was part of Borrowdale Constituency to the new Hatcliffe Constituency,” said Mr Banda.
He said some parts of Ward 7 have been taken out of Mt Pleasant Constituency as well.
“Avondale, most of Alexandra Park, Belgravia and Strathaven have been taken out of Mt Pleasant. At least 90 percent of Ward 7 has been moved from Mt Peasant.
“The constituency has lost almost 40 percent as Ward 7 has been moved to the east towards Glenara into Chisipite. A good part of Ward 17 has gone into Ward 19 which is now Hatcliffe Constituency,” said Mr Banda.
The legislator said that residents are going to have to get used to the new changes no matter how they feel about them.
“Having boundaries of the people you love and have grown to know, love and understand being split causes heartache and is never easy particularly when 80 percent of your constituency is taken away as will be the case.
“It means I will have to be cajoled to join Hatcliffe Constituency. I love Mt Pleasant and what a fortress and a beauty of a constituency it is though standards have obviously gone to levels which we are not too happy with.
“I have no comprehension as to support or not support the delimitation as on the one hand it brings discomfort but on the other hand it brings new challenges.
“In the case that the delimitation report is approved despite some reservations in terms of law and true demarcations themselves, I have the capacity and am well cut to deal in a low density (suburb) only or a combination of low and high density suburbs.
“It is a trying time and we have to go to the drawing board and see how we can serve the new territories,” said Mr Banda.
Mt Pleasant constituency has 33 153 registered voters and comprises wards 7 and 17 of Harare Municipality. Ward 17 has a total of 15 974 registered voters while Ward 7 has a total of 17 179 registered voters.