Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Justice Rita Makarau has buckled under pressure and assured opposition parties that the government will not fiddle with the procurement process for biometric voter registration (BVR) kits or the independence of her commission, NewsDay has heard.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
In a letter to the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera), a grouping of 13 political parties pushing for her ouster among other electoral reforms, Makarau said government was only providing funding and would not interfere with the procurement.
“We wish to reiterate our position, as indicated to you in the meeting, that government has not taken over the procurement process of BVR kits. Government, instead of UNDP [United Nations Development Programme], is now providing the funding, while Zec becomes the procuring entity,” she said.
Parties under the Nera banner held a demonstration last week demanding that government fires Justice Makarau and allow a United Nations as well as Sadc-supervised poll. She walked out of a meeting with opposition parties demanding “respect”, claiming she had been undermined and abused.
Tempers have flared with opposition political parties accusing Zec and the Zanu PF-led government of trying to rig the election by tampering with the transparent procurement of BVR kits which was being run by the UNDP.
Justice Makarau said: “The commission wishes to assure all stakeholders that transparency shall be maintained throughout the procurement process of the BVR kits. There will be no retendering or invitation of new bidders in the process. Only those who were involved from the beginning will be considered.”
Zec did not, however, clarify whether all 14 companies that placed their bids would be included or it would stick to the seven who qualified under the UNDP vetting.
Justice Makarau also said the commission would continue to work with UNDP using their money to pay for other unfunded aspects of its operations.
“The funds which had been sourced by the UNDP for BVR kits will be channelled to other needy areas by the commission. Be rest assured that the move does not threaten Zec’s independence in any way,” she said in the letter.
MDC-T secretary-general and Nera legal adviser Douglas Mwonzora called for more pressure, adding last week’s demonstration had worked.
“It was not in vain. We shall continue keeping our eyes open to ensure that it’s not government which will seek to procure these kits. We will continue to fight,” Mwonzora said.