Elections face fresh setback

THE credibility of Zimbabwe’s general elections this year has been thrown into doubt after a South African-run ID systems firm hired to produce a new voters’ roll for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) recently took the electoral management body to court over alleged “impropriety” in the handling of tenders.

Reuters/Staff Reporter

The legal wrangle, which spilled to the Administrative Court last Thursday, has the potential of tarnishing the credibility of a poll meant to usher in a new era of transparency post-Robert Mugabe.

A credible vote is key to the restoration of democratic legitimacy following a de facto coup in November that ousted Mugabe after 37 years at the helm.

It is also crucial to unlocking badly needed financial aid and repairing relations with Western powers.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, a one-time protégé of Mugabe, pledged last week that transparent elections would be held by July and that he would respect the result if the opposition wins.

Laxton Group, whose production headquarters is in China, filed papers with the Administrative Court on Thursday questioning why it had lost out on a contract to “clean up” the list of registered voters.

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The company, whose directors are mostly South African, has been registering Zimbabwean voters since September in a United Nations-backed attempt to generate a “clean” list of voters as the basis for a credible election.

But Zec held a separate tender for what is known as the “de-duplication” process – which ensures there is no double entry of voters or other aberrations – and awarded it to a rival bidder, Ipsidy.

In its legal filing, Laxton accused Zec of manipulating costs presented in its bid for the de-duplication contract.

It also said Zec had given an inexplicably low weighting to Laxton’s favourable rating in a technical test.

“It is submitted that the impropriety of (Zec’s) conduct in awarding the tender (to Ipsidy) … should be looked at within the context of the whole rationale of regulating public procurement,” Laxton said in the document.

Zimbabwe’s previous elections have been marred by allegations of vote rigging, with manipulation of the register of voters frequently at the heart of the controversy.

Zec acting chairperson, Emmanuel Magade was recently quoted as saying he had referred the matter to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission for investigation.

Magade took over from former Zec chairperson, Rita Makarau, who resigned in December.

Laxton argues it is best-placed to run the de-duplication process because the registration data, including fingerprints of every voter, is loaded on its systems. In its legal filing, Laxton also said United States-listed Ipsidy was facing financial difficulties that could harm its ability to do the job properly.

According to its 2016 annual report, Ipsidy has consistently run at a loss, has accumulated debts of $49 million and needs additional finance.

The firm is also expected to incur net losses for the “foreseeable future”, it added.

“It is respectfully submitted that this was terribly irresponsible given that a three-year warranty was required,” Laxton said in its filing. “If a company is unstable or unable to continue operating, it is likely that it will not be in a position to provide these services in three years’ time.”

Ipsidy did not respond to requests for comment.

11 Comments

  1. Go away Laxton, how can you check yourself. Tibvirei

  2. Democracy democracy as prescribed by the West. Show me one African country that has ever profited from it. I’ll show you an Asian country that gave the middle finger sign to Western style democracy and right now is on its way to becoming a superpower. We need to develop our own brand of democracy like China did.

    1. I like how the Chinese do not elect known criminals and go after them aggressively if they slip through and then are exposed. I like their leadership renewal; CCP leaders have to step down from positions of leadership at age 69. Their rapid national economic transformation has been almost unbelievable. Hopefully, personal life fulfillment will not be judged purely on material or economic terms in whatever system we Zimbabweans eventually live in.

  3. [According to its 2016 annual report, Ipsidy has consistently run at a loss, has accumulated debts of $49 million and needs additional finance. The firm is also expected to incur net losses for the “foreseeable future”, it added.]

    Why would anyone grant a tender to such a company? That is what needs to be investigated and answered.

    1. words from a competitor. What are Laxton’s strength and weakness

  4. COMRADE MATAURA CHOKWADI WE NEED TO CREATE OUR OWN STLE. KWETE KUNGOITISWA. WE ARE ZIMBABWEANS AND WE NEED TO IT THE ZIMBA WAY.

  5. There’s no such thing as a personalised style of democracy, its either people are freely allowed to elect leaders of their choice or nothing. We have already wasted 37 years of our live experimenting with ‘Mugabe style’ African democracy & the disastrous results are there for everyone to see

  6. all of you who are saying zimboz must do it their own way look at our economy now, thats what Bob was saying all along, because he isolated himself from the global community
    point of correction
    China,s economy is one of the best in the world because they are flexible in doing business with every nation in the continent
    from USA to Zimbabwe

  7. Kuwiriranakwakanakakugarakunzwanana Garanewakohamandishe

    Comment…Asi nhayi hama dzangu, mari yekuti sarudzo dziitwe imboripo here? Kana isipo ingobvepi? Apa takatarisana nonzara tsvuku inenge ropa. Dondinyepayiwo mhanduwewe ndinzwe.

  8. How can ZEC engage Chinese companies when China has never had a democratic vote since its founding!!

  9. Zanu pf thieves

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