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Outrage as NIKUV bids to supply biometric registration kits
20/01/2017 00:00:00
by Staff reporter
 
ZEC boss, Rita Makarau
 
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CONTROVERSIAL Israeli security company, Nikuv International Projects, is one of the 12 companies that have responded to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to supply the electoral body with biometric registration kits and software, Newzimbabwe.com heard this week.

Last year, ZEC put a tender inviting local and international technology firms with the capacity to supply biometric voter registration (BVR) kits. The tender was closed on Wednesday and ZEC opened the bids in the presence of a few selected stakeholders, excluding the media.

However, according to a source who attended the opening of the tender at ZEC offices in Harare, 12 companies submitted their bids but only two of the companies were identified. The two are Nikuv and local telecommunications firm, Africom.

The source said people gathered for the opening of the tenders were worried over the possibility of Nikuv being offered the contract.

In 2013, the Nikuv was accused of playing a critical role in influencing the outcome of the disputed general elections.

"Nikuv submitted its bid but what is of concern is that the company operates like a mafia and there are fears that it will manipulate the election process in Zimbabwe if it is awarded the tender," said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is funding the procurement of the BVR equipment at a cost of $50 million.

The 12 companies are reported to have submitted tenders valued from between $3, 7 million and $10, 7 million with ZEC claiming it will look for the "cheapest and best qualified company".

Three shortlisted companies are expected to carry out a pilot exercise on 8 and 9 February using school going age children below 18 years to avoid fears that voters’ names will be captured in the final voters' roll.

The source said ZEC officials on Wednesday informed them that the voter registration exercise will start in May and is expected to be completed after eight months.

At least 1 500 kits will be used for voter registration at 10 000 polling stations across the country and ZEC officials will be stationed at each polling centre for 15 days. At least four million people are expected to be registered during the exercise.

At each polling station there will be a finger print scanner, kit box, camera and solar kit while a printer, ID scanner, barcode scanner, document and signature pad are optional.



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However, the source said there was vagueness in voter registration rules and regulations as polling agents from political parties would not be present to monitor the exercise.

"There is need to tighten the rules for registration as the specifications of the BVR can be manipulated. A number of people will be excluded as they will fail to register on time. Polling agents should be engaged in the voter registration exercise," he said.

The source also expressed concern that the data capturing exercise will not be done electronically to curb fraud but will be transferred manually to ZEC head office.


 
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