By Daniel Chigundu
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Chairperson Rita Makarau has revealed that government has blocked UNDP from acquiring the biometric voter registration kits for the country.
BVR kits will enable the implementation of biometric voter registration which ZEC wants to introduce for the impending 2018 elections.
Initially UNDP, a longtime partner of ZEC had pledged to acquire the equipment to help ease the situation for the financially troubled government and it was in the process of verifying the tender documents submitted by potential suppliers.
However addressing a media engagement meeting, Makarau said government has finally come on board and has taken over the purchasing of the BVR kits.
“With regards to BVR kits a number of companies had shown interest in supplying but only 12 companies tendered and because this was going to be funded by UNDP, tendering was done on their E-Platform in Copenhagen.
“Of the 12 companies, about seven of them were non compliant technically, so we now have five that meet compliance, but they will be trimmed to at least three lowest bids.
“We will then invite these into the country to come and do demonstrations on how their machines work before we give them the tender.
“Let me also reveal that government has now come on board and they have said they will now fully fund the acquiring of the BVR kits,” she said.
It’s widely believed that government prefers that the BVR equipment be supplied by NIKUV and are worried that if UNDP pays for it they might award it to a different supplier.
NIKUV which is believed to be one of the companies that have submitted tenders to supply the BVR equipment was fingered in aiding Zanu PF to allegedly rig the 2013 general election and opposition parties are skeptical about its involvement in the supplying of the election equipment.
Asked to explain why government had decided to take over the issue at a time when UNDP was almost finalizing the tenders, Makarau said she was not in a position to answer the question as it was government decision.
Zimbabwe is currently facing a complicated financial struggle, which has seen it struggle to consistently pay its civil servants wages, annual bonuses and even fund other government related operations. Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa is currently sweating with funding avenues for his ambitious US$4.1 billion 2017 National Budget, amid dwindling revenue collections from Zimra