by Buhle Tshavango
The Election Resource Council (ERC) has questioned the independence of the decision by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to award Chinese company Laxton group the tender to supply BVR kits to be used in the upcoming elections.
In a press statement released today by the Elections Resource Council, the organisation acknowledges that Laxton performed better but questions whether the final decision to award them the tender was ZEC’s owns decision.
“ZEC must provide evidence that the Executive did not influence the decision to award the tender to Laxton in order to address perceptions around ZEC’s independence given the fact that the State Procurement Board was involved in the consideration of which company to pick.
The Chinese company’s kits had passed all tests during the validation process however others are of the view that the awarding of the tender might be motivated by our country’s fondness of our friends from the East.
“The Election Management Body must independently execute their mandate and must be seen to be independent as stipulated in the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the SADC principles and guidelines on elections which Zimbabwe is a signatory to” says ERC.
The ERC in this regard insists on the full alignment of the Electoral Act with the Constitution ahead of key electoral processes without which the independence of ZEC and the constitutionality of electoral processes can be viewed with doubt.
While Zimbabwe’s relations with China have always been obvious, questions are now being posed to whether such an important tender on BVR kits can be awarded on the basis of friendship as this process contributes to the regaining of voter confidence towards the 2018 harmonised elections.
“…Perceptions around the Executive’s relations with China may taint the competencies, integrity and capacity of Laxton to implement their contract without bias. In as much as it is critical to ensure that these perceptions are addressed through professional and non-partisan conduct by ZEC in administering voter registration, the focus of election stakeholders must extend beyond the choice of company set to supply the equipment for voter registration” added ERC.
As the 2018 harmonised elections beckon ZEC must curb voter apathy by conforms to international voter registration principles including integrity, inclusiveness, accessibility, transparency, accountability, and an informed electorate.
by Buhle Tshavango