By Daniel Chigundu
MDC-N vice president Edwin Mushoriwa says there is not enough time to effectively implement the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) system before the next general elections.
Zimbabwe is set to go for watershed polls in 2018 and the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) is in the process of trying to compile a fresh voters’ roll in an effort to get rid of alleged dead voters in the previously used voters list.
The new voter’s roll will be compiled using the currently favored BVR system whose procurement is a subject of heavy contestation between government and opposition parties in the country.
However, these contestations have caused delays in the procurement of the system and Mushoriwa says he is doubtful if ZEC will be able to finish the biometric voter registration process on time for the elections.
“BVR operates in a system where there is enough time to prepare for it, I will tell you in terms of time, as we speak right now we haven’t even procured the kits, we haven’t gone to the pilot tests, we haven’t even trained the personnel to do the job, we haven’t done anything.
“And to make matters worse we have said to UNDP we don’t want your money as if we have money in this country when we don’t have, if you do the BVR look at it from a Zanu PF culture of violence, it is known that intimidation and violence have actually been the weapon which Zanu PF has made to retain power.
“If you are going to have BVR registration in the rural areas and you tell the people that you are now going to be taken your pictures, your fingerprints and other things, two months or three months towards elections, just imagine the traditional leaders with Zanu PF whips behind them telling the people that next time you go to vote it will be easier to pin-point where you voted, so intimidation is going to work to their advantage,” he said.
The MDC-N vice President added that in as much as the BVR is a desired destination, it cannot be implemented for the 2018 polls as there will be a need to address the various teething problems that come with implementing new technologies.
“I think the BVR we can start to implement it for the 2023 elections post 2018 elections so that we give this country time to build that BVR system and also get the buy-in from all the stakeholders,” Mushoriwa said.
Transform Zimbabwe has since engaged SADC over the issue of BVR in Zimbabwe as there are fears that it might be tempered with to enable alleged rigging by Zanu PF with assistance from ZEC.