OPPOSITION parties and independent electoral watchdogs have expressed concern over delays by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to announce the winning bid for supply of biometric voter registration (BVR) kits, three weeks after two international suppliers were taken through validation tests.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Zec has to choose the winner between Dermalog Identification Systems of Germany and Laxton Group Limited of China after the two firms recently conducted public trials of their systems in Harare and Seke communal areas as part of the bidding process.
Zec chairperson, Rita Makarau had pledged to announce the winner within a week of validation tests, but is yet to do so three weeks down the line.
Efforts to get a comment from her were fruitless yesterday, as her mobile phone went unanswered.
The Morgan Tsvangirai-led opposition MDC-T party said the delays could only be attributed to an attempt to rig the polls.
MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu said Zec should not treat elections as an event, but a process with set time lines.
“We don’t have much time left before the holding of the elections next year and as such, the sooner the winner of the BVR kits tender is announced by Zec, the better,” he said.
“An election is a process and not an event. It’s a marathon and not a sprint. We need to have the preparations for a free and fair election, most importantly the electoral reforms, implemented timeously to ensure the holding of a credible, free and fair election next year.”
Gutu said his party had since engaged Zec over the delays.
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) said delays in announcing the winning bid would affect the timelines for next year’s general elections and compromise the credibility of the final voters’ roll.
“Zesn is concerned that delays in the awarding of the BVR tender will affect the timelines for the actual registration exercise, which requires sufficient time for essential processes, such as procurement of the registration kits, recruitment of voter registration officers and data capturers and comprehensive voter education for voter registration,” Zesn said.
They noted that for the voters’ roll to meet international standards, it had to be completed at least six months before the polls to give political parties adequate time to study the roll.
“The final version of the voters’ roll must be ready at least six months before the elections to allow sufficient time for verification processes, audit and voter inspection, which is critical given that a new polling station based voters’ roll system will be used,” Zesn said.
“In view of the significant number of turned away voters, the inspection phase will require adequate time to avoid voters turning out at the wrong polling stations.”