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ZEC cornered, requested to publicise procurement details for 2023 voting material

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By Leopold Munhende


THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has been requested to release information on the procurement of last year’s voting material following concerns the institution could have been used to externalise millions.

The request, which came from human rights defenderTapiwa Chiriga, is in part response to ZEC’s latest statement dismissing claims of fraud and abuse of office involving Zanu PF Parliamentarian Scott Sakupwanya, controversial moneybags Wicknell Chivayo, Mike Chimombe, Moses Mpofu and the electoral body’s Chairperson Priscilla Chigumba.

Over US$40 million is said to have been paid to Chivayo in a shadowy deal characterised by overpriced cheap goods and a lack of due diligence in ZEC’s case.

Chigumba’s role in the deal was exposed after details emerged she had been flown to meet Ren-Form executives alongside Chivayo, Chimombe and Mpofu in South Africa way before finalisation of their tender. This followed other meetings with the three in Harare according to The NewsHawks, who broke the story.

Ren-Form is a South African company whose operations centre on the supply of election material mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa.

After details of the deal were leaked, ZEC jumped in defence and argued it had not sought or purchased any equipment through third parties as was evident in troves of leaked documents that made their way on social media following a fallout between Chivayo, Chimombe and Mpofu.

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ZEC argued it did not have any contract with the three businessmen and had only used just over US$21 million to purchase the material.

“We have noted with great concern social media posts and rumours circulating online, that are causing public alarm and despondency and we would like to put it on record that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has no contract nor did it procure any election material from or through individuals being mentioned in the reports.

“All materials procured for the 2023 Harmonised Elections were obtained in line with procurement regulations and there was due diligence as all tender processes were subjected to oversight. We challenge all those alleging that the commission has a contract with the three individuals to come forward and present the same,” said ZEC in a statement.

Chiriga has however requested that ZEC publicise its dealings and how they procured voting material leading up to last year’s general elections, specifying where and when this was done.

His request is protected by the Freedom of Information Act and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act.

“…the concern with regards to your procurement procedures particularly to the ballot printing is a cause for concern for our client. As such our client as a citizen of this country is entitled to all information relating to all procurement processes,” reads a letter delivered to ZEC on July 2.

“Our client therefore requests that you furnish us with all information relating to the form of bidding you applied in securing the services of ballot printing in the previous election.

“Further provide us with the basis of implementing a particular method of bidding and the grounds for taking such a decision as envisaged in Section 30 of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets.

“The notice requesting suppliers to submit proposals, name of publication, date of publication and a copy of such publication (if it was competitive bidding or not)

“All records of present procumbent proceedings relating to the printing of ballots;

“The contract award and a copy of the signed contract itself and your written approvals for sub-contracting to the supplier as contemplated in Section 80 of the above-mentioned Act.”

Staggered payments were made by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office.

Mnangagwa’s daughter, Chido has also been dragged into the mess.

Sakupwanya, whose South African registered company Better Brands Security was used as a vehicle is yet to be questioned by authorities while Chivayo has not hesitated to brag about his freedom on social media.

Chivayo recently made headlines after an audio in which he claimed to have Mnangagwa in the palm of his hand leaked.

His colleagues, Chimombe and Mpofu are currently in remand prison on a US$80 million fraud case.