ZIMBABWE runs the risk of producing another disputed election result, after it emerged that the much vaunted bio-metric voter registration (BVR) system has damaging flaws, which include lack of checks and balances to avoid double registration.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
People’s Democratic Party (PDP) acting secretary general, Settlement Chikwinya, yesterday raised the red flag after claiming he had registered as a voter twice at two different centres in the Midlands province without being detected.
“I wanted to check if the system can pick out double registration, so I registered in Kwekwe, then went to Kadoma, where I successfully registered as a voter again without the system raising any red flags.
“This shows us that the system is porous and can allow for dead voters to appear on the voters’ roll,” he said.
BVR kits experts told NewsDay that the kits were not networked and operated separately, making it impossible to dictate double voter registration.
“What was supplied by Laxton Group of companies is just the data collection tools, this data will then be transported in tamperproof flash sticks to the servers, where the central system will be used to deal with issues of double voter registration,” an expert said.
Disputes over electoral irregularities have become common in Zimbabwe, especially since the turn of the century, when Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede was accused of tampering with the voters’ roll to allow the ruling Zanu PF regime to manipulate election results.
The voters’ roll has remained one of the most contentious electoral issues, with critics saying its flaws allowed for President Robert Mugabe to rig elections.
Mugabe has denied rigging polls.
The expert said Laxton has given The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) the best equipment in line with the tender requirements and is not responsible for dealing with cleaning the voters’ roll because that needs a totally different system.
“The actual voter’s roll is done with back end software, which comprises the central database system plus the automated fingerprint identification software (AFIS).
“The latter is responsible for eliminating double registrations of individuals resulting in a clean or dirty voters’ roll,” the source said.
The storage of information gathered in the BVR exercise continues to be shrouded in mystery, with conflicting statements on how the data would be stored.
Contacted for comment, Zec deputy chairperson, Emmanuel Magade said the BVR system was foolproof, adding multiple registrants would be flushed out from the register before elections.
“We are going to roll out our blitz in October, which will last 72 days, after which we will do a process called deduplication or un-duplication, where we will use a software called AFIS… crooks or dishonest people would be caught out and the roll will be cleaned because you cannot reconfigure your face or your fingerprints,” he said.
Zec says it received 3 000 voter registration kits from Laxton Group yesterday ahead of schedule.