Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Preparations for 2018 general elections have gathered momentum with payment for the first batch of biometric voter registration (BVR) kits expected to be made next week as the $7,5 million meant to buy the kits is now in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) bank account.
ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau said people will be allowed to register to vote from anywhere in the country but the information will be sent to their wards.
She said this in the capital yesterday while addressing political parties that contested the 2013 general elections and senior media practitioners.
Justice Makarau said ZEC had doubled the number of biometric voter registration kits from an initial 1 500 to 3 000 to speed up the process considering that time was running out.
“We decided to double up on the number of kits because were cognizant of the limited time that we now had to register voters. So we doubled up on the number so that we keep the timelines that we had in mind when we invited bids for the 1 500 kits. Because we had increased on the number of kits we had to renegotiate on the contract. That took us sometime,” said Justice Makarau.
She said they were already discussing with the central bank and the bank of Chinese firm Laxton Group Limited, the supplier, to allow for transfer of the money.
“The funding for the entire purchase of 3 000 BVR kits in the sum $7,59 million is sitting in the ZEC account. We have the money. I just wanted to give that assurance. The money is with us. So there is no doubt about the procurement of BVR kits and Zimbabwe is doing biometric voter registration for 2018. I just wanted to kill that speculation, like will we be able to fund it, is the money there, will we be able to transmit it?” said Justice Makarau.
“The terms of the agreement requires us to transmit 50 percent of the contract price before any kits are delivered. We are expecting 400 kits to be delivered to enable us to start the training process,” said Justice Makarau.
She dismissed media claims that there would be a second tender for the procurement of BVR kits.
“However, we still need to acquire software system called AFIS, Automated Finger Print Identification System. The procurement of that system is underway in line with our laws and policies. All procured goods within ZEC, no matter how small, even the sandwiches that we procure for our tea, we have to go through procurement processes. The procurement system is underway and documents have since been sent to the State Procurement Board to enable us to acquire that system. Don’t be alarmed by the timeframe for the acquisition of that system because it is the system that we use after all the data had been gathered from the field. It detects multiple registration. So we are still in good time, we are on course,” said Justice Makarau.
She said all the data to be acquired by the BVR across the country would be stored at a server resident at their offices acquired by the United Nations Development Programme well before the talk of biometric system had begun.
“That equipment was acquired for our use. It does not have the requisite capacity that we require. We have had conversation with UNDP and they are going to assist us to upgrade and not acquire. I want to be very clear, to upgrade the capacity of that server and that process is already underway,” said Justice Makarau.
ZEC deputy chief elections officer Mr Utloile Silaigwana said they anticipate that voter registration would take two-and-a-half months.