The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has awarded a Chinese firm, Laxton Group Limited, a tender to supply Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits for registering voters ahead of the crucial 2018 general elections.
According to the state-controlled Sunday News, the State Procurement Board settled for Laxton Group, which proposed a US$3,9 million budget to supply the BVR kits. The other bidder, Demalog Identification Systems of German submitted a $5,5 million bid.
The newspaper quoted ZEC chairperson, Rita Makarau, as saying they are now finalizing the terms of the contract with Laxton Group.
“Our team is negotiating the terms of contract of supply with a team from the selected supplier. Once the terms are agreed upon we will then advise on the dates of delivery and date of commencement of the registration exercise.”
Indications are that the initial tender was for 1,600 kits but ZEC is said to be in need of 3,000 kits comprising 2,900 general kits and 100 districts kits.
Laxton Group, which was not immediately reachable for comment, has been allegedly working in nations like Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Malawi and Mozambique.
The Biometric Voter Registration process involves the electronic use of a person’s unique physical traits like eyes in capturing someone’s identity.
Some Zimbabweans are skeptical about the BVR process saying it won’t eliminate voter fraud.
Meanwhile, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai say the awarding of the BVR tender to a Chinese company is a gigantic fraud.
“This award is in stark contradiction to the recommendation of the political parties that observed the BVR validation process. The MDC is aware that the Zanu PF-appointed State Procurement Board directly influenced ZEC to award this tender to the Chinese company. It does not escape us that the beleaguered and faction-ridden Zanu PF party has strong bonds of friendship with the Communist Party of China.
“Notwithstanding this biased and politically-inspired award of the BVR kits supply contract to Laxton Group Limited, the MDC is calling upon Zimbabweans, living in the country and in the diaspora, to register to vote in their millions when the voter registration exercise begins in due course.”
The party said their technical experts are convinced that the German company, Demalog Identification Systems, are technically superior and better experienced in the supply of BVR kits compared to the Chinese company, Laxton Group Limited.
“Be that as it may, our technical experts are highly trained computer specialists who will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the BVR exercise is not manipulated and bastardized by the crumbling and bankrupt Zanu PF regime. The people of Zimbabwe are guaranteed of winning against the Zanu PF dictatorship provided they register to vote in their millions in order to circumvent and short circuit the evil and malevolent vote rigging machinery that ZEC is desperately trying to put in place.
“The MDC encourages all eligible voters, particularly the youth, to ensure that they not only register to vote but also that they cast their ballot on polling day. Voter apathy is one of the biggest enemies of democracy. Indeed, the collapsing and faction - infested Zanu PF regime will be a direct beneficiary of voter apathy, particularly in urban areas. The solution, therefore, is to make sure that no less than 6 million Zimbabweans should register to vote for the 2018 harmonized elections.”
The MDC-T said no dictatorship can stop the people's march to victory as long as Zimbabweans remain united, determined and focused.
“The MDC is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that each and every vote in next year's elections is free and fair. Our push for electoral reforms remains undeterred and our resolute stance against all forms of vote rigging is getting even stronger by the day.”
Elections will next year be polling-station based, a move that has already been criticized by opposition parties as unfair and designed to benefit the ruling party.
Zanu PF has dismissed such allegations as wishful thinking.