6 August 2013

Zimbabwe: Senate Built On Proportional Representation in Each Province

ZANU-PF which pulverised the MDC-T in the National Assembly elections countrywide will form a working majority, and even a working two-thirds majority, if the senator chiefs follow tradition by voting with the revolutionary party in the Upper House. The Senate has three blocks of members. The biggest, of 60, is made up of six senators from each province chosen from party lists in proportion to the votes won by candidates from each party in the National Assembly elections.

Each party contesting at least one seat in the National Assembly election in a province could submit a list of six candidates for the Senate.

As the party reached each sixth of the votes of the province, with rounding up and down, the next candidate on that party list was elected to the Senate.

With proportional representation, majorities are usually less spectacular and so it proved last week.

Zanu-PF ended up with 37 senators, MDC-T with 21 and the MDC with 2.

Although the MDC could not win any National Assembly constituency seats, it managed to attract enough support to cross the threshold in Bulawayo and Matabeleland South to win one senate seat in both provinces. Zanu-PF and MDC-T each have at least one senator in every province, although for Zanu-PF in Bulawayo and for the MDC-T in the three Mashonalands, it is only one senator.

Each party had to submit a "zebra" list, alternating men and women candidates with a woman heading each provincial list.

This has seen the 60 seats split between 37 women and 23 men.

Two senators representing people living with disabilities also had to be one-one of each gender, driving the number of women senators to 38.

The third block of senators are chiefs, two from each non-metropolitan province for a total of 16 plus the president and vice-president of the council of chiefs for a total of 18.

These, if they continue to vote much of the time with the Zanu-PF block, will give that block a good majority of 55.

As all senator chiefs are men, the final composition on the 78-person Senate is 38 women, and 42 men.

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