[LATE GROWTH FLUSH: No surprise: turnout was very light; but surprisingly, it seems this chamber is set up to have no veto power, leaving one to wonder, why bother]
[LATER GROWTH FLUSH: The Head Heeb has a re-cap, noting that this election may "mark an end to any kind of credible political opposition in Zimbabwe."]
November 26 is the date for the elections to the controversial new senate in Zimbabwe. Angus-Reid has a useful backgrounder and timeline, in which it is noted:
Mugabe loyalists argued that a Senate was necessary to improve legislation, while the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) claims the new body was created to accommodate supporters of the current regime.
Of course, advocates of bicameralism usually claim that an upper house “improves” legislation, and if the upper house is well designed, it can do so. (Senate has its root in the Latin senex–old man. Of course, so does senile, but the idea is that upper houses are the preserve of the wise grown-ups who can take the longer view than the rabble in the lower house.) But most senates provide exaggerated representation for regionally concentrated and usually conservative minorities that are losing national support. Zimbabwe’s will do this very effectively, given both malapportionment (5 seats per province, despite widely varying populations) and gerrymandering (how district lines are drawn within the provinces to minimze the number of districts in which the opposition might constitute a plurality).
The opposition has split badly over whether to participate or not. 19 of the 50 elective seats will not even be contested. And with the split in the opposition and the general lack of enthusiasm about the election, Mugabe’s ZANU-PF may win its first contested seats in five years in several urban areas, according to The Zimbabwe Independent, which also quotes from a study of the gerrymandering by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network:
the senatorial constituencies are demarcated such that were the electorate to vote the same way on November 26 as it did on March 31, the MDC would not win any senatorial seats even in those provinces where it won some seats in March 2005, such as in the Midlands and Masvingo.
The things you can do when you control the drawing of district lines…