THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has to wait a little bit longer to procure the critical automated fingerprint identification software meant to flush out double registrants, as it still has to contend with the legal challenge mounted by Chinese firm, Laxton Group, its major supplier of biometric voter registration (BVR) equipment.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
Laxton Group has taken Zec to court contesting the decision to award the automated fingerprint identification software to American firm, Ipsidy Inc, claiming the company had no capacity to competitively supply the software.
The matter appeared at the Administrative Court on Tuesday and judgment was postponed to a later date.
According to court documents obtained by NewsDay, Zec is appealing to the court to dismiss Laxton with costs, claiming its arguments have no merit.
Any further delay in procurement of the server will further delay preparations for the elections which are constitutionally due in the next four months.
Zec claimed Laxton has no grounds to bother the court with its application, as it is raising issues that were not part of the tender invitation.
“Further no issues were raised by the appellant at the pre-bid meeting held on September 19, 2017 to explain the RFP to potential bidders and field questions from the potential bidders on the RFP’s requirements,” the submissions read.
“Those bidders that did field queries in respect of the RFP received responses, which responses, as standard procedure, were copied to all the potential bidders despite the fact that the queries may have raised by only one company.”
Zec also said it made sense that the supplier of the BVR kits be separate from the supplier of other facilities to avoid monopoly, so as to improve the security of the system.
“As the creation and maintenance of a credible voters’ roll is of paramount importance in the maintenance of the republic, such risks must be mitigated as far as possible and
it is thus reasonable for the commission to have regard to issues of vendor lock in the award of tenders.
“It improves the security of the system, ensure that it remains sufficiently flexible as to survive the demise of one or more vendors that supplied components for the system and prevents the virtual ‘enslavement’ of the system to one service provider.”
However, Ipsidy dismissed the allegations raised by its competitor, saying they were purely speculative and self-serving.
Ipsidy claimed Laxton is trying to come up with its set of requirements that were not part of the tender invitation.
The company said the whole electoral system of the country cannot be placed in the hands of a single supplier, more so when it was beaten by other players during the bidding process.