Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
The Administrative Court has upheld a decision by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to award a tender to a New York-based company, IPSIDY, to supply a biometric voter registration (BVR) de-duplication hardware and software.
This followed an appeal by a Chinese company, Laxton Group Limited, which in June last year won the tender to supply BVR kits ahead of this year’s harmonised elections.
In essence, de-duplication equipment and software is used to eliminate redundant or repeated copies of data in a biometric system. Aggrieved by the decision by ZEC and State Procurement Board (SPB) to award IPSIDY, Laxton Group approached the Administrative Court to set aside the tender.
In his judgment handed down yesterday, Justice Herbert Mandeya upheld ZEC’s decision that IPSIDY’s bid was the most economically advantageous. It was noted that while Laxton Group’s bid was $1,9 million, IPSIDY had submitted a $1,7 million bid.
“In evaluating Laxton Group’s bid and that of IPSIDY, ZEC found that the appellant’s bid costs more than the third respondent’s. It also took into account the other most economic advantageous tender (MEAT) factors as discussed earlier,” said Justice Mandeya.
Justice Mandeya noted that Laxton Group entered the tender knowing fully well that ZEC intended to procure the service at the lowest possible cost.
“But procuring entities go to tender to obtain the best services at the cheapest cost. It is, therefore, odd that the appellant did not query why ZEC had invited tenders in this case,” he said.
“In a tender such as the present one, only one bidder would in the end win the tender. The other bidders would lose as what happened to the appellant in this case.”
Justice Mandeya dismissed claims by Laxton Group that IPSIDY was insolvent, saying the issue was never raised with SPB, ZEC or a tribunal of first instance.
“For that reason, the sixth ground of appeal is dismissed with costs,” he said.
The court also noted that the allegation that IPSIDY had not been security vetted was being raised for the first time before the court, hence could not be considered by a court of appeal such as the Administrative Court.
“This court sat as a court of appeal in this case. In an appeal, the issues before the court are those raised by the appellant in its grounds of appeal,” said Justice Mandeya.
“Appellant’s grounds of appeal do not raise the issue of whether or not IPSIDY was security vetted. Therefore, that issue is not properly before this court in this appeal.”
Commenting on the court judgment, ZEC deputy chairperson Mr Emmanuel Magade said they felt vindicated and called upon all parties to move forward.
“My disposition and views have always been that the appeal was completely devoid of merit and ill-conceived. The award process was done above board and the court has vindicated that position,” he said.