Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has paid over $3 million to Laxton Group, which is expected to deliver the first batch of 400 bio-metric voter registration kits in the next 48 days.
This effectively means that the first consignment of BVR kits should arrive in the country by September and the remaining 2 600 kits are expected to be delivered within a period of three months.
ZEC commissioner Emmanuel Magade, who stood in for the commission’s chairperson Justice Rita Makarau, told civic organisations and faith group leaders on Tuesday that the $3,750 million paid to Laxton Group was part of the $7,5 million released by Government to fund procurement of BVR kits.
He said it was pleasing to note that Government did not owe anything with regards to procurement of BVR kits. “2018 is almost upon us and it is now all systems go — we are pulling all the stops in our preparations,” said Commissioner Magade.
“With BVR, we have crossed the Rubicon — there is no going back. Government has availed to ZEC $7,5 million and 50 percent of that amount was paid to the account of Laxton Group in (the) Republic of South Africa. The first instalment of 400 kits will be delivered within 48 days from date of payment.
“The remaining 2 600 (to be delivered) within a period of three months — we will try and accelerate the process.” Once the registration commences, Commissioner Magade said, they expected to spend 16 days at each registration centre and the process will last 70 days.
“Each kit will cover four centres,” he said. “We are going back to the drawing board. We are going back to ground zero. It’s a new template or trajectory altogether in terms of election management in this country.
“Final demarcation of polling areas will only be carried out after the voter registration is concluded when the exact number of registered voters will be known. Therefore, it does not necessarily mean that the designated registration centres will automatically mutate into polling stations come 2018. However, voting 2018 will be polling station specific.”
Commissioner Magade, however, pointed out that eligible voters could register at any centre in the country where registration would be taking place. He said the commission was aware that the requirement of proof of residence to register as a voter was still a sticking issue, but discussions were still under way to address that.
ZEC is targeting to register at least seven million voters when the BVR exercise begins. ZEC’s deputy chief elections officer, Mr Utloile Silaigwana, told a media briefing recently that they would establish permanent voter registration centres at the national headquarters, provincial and district offices countrywide.
“The number of kits the commission has purchased has the capacity to register over seven million voters, which is far much more than the voters in the country,” he said.