The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has taken delivery of 400 Biometric Voter Registration kits, kickstarting the first major phase of the 2018 harmonised elections.
The equipment arrived from China last week in terms of an arrangement between Zec and Laxton Group Limited, which landed the supply deal around June this year.
Another batch of 2 600 kits will be delivered before October when countrywide voter registration is likely to begin. Zec officials will from tomorrow start familiarising with the equipment as voter education, which includes door-to-door interactions with citizens, switches into top gear.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Zec chairperson Justice Rita Makarau described the kits’ arrival as a “massive development”. “I can confirm that we have received the first batch of 400 Biometric Voter Registration kits. The kits are now in our possession, and we are inspecting them to verify whether everything is in place, including whether each and every kit is in good condition and ready for use.
“This is obviously a massive development, which has given us confidence to prove to all and sundry that we are on track. So, on our part, everything is going according to plan. We are on track in terms of meeting our targets. “We want to commend Laxton for sticking to the terms of our contracts and delivering on their word. This is very important because it gives us confidence that the programme is going according to plan.”
Justice Makarau said the kits will be used during this week’s training. “We will first start with the training of master trainers and then these trainers will train the officers who will use the kits. The training of trainers will start on Monday, September 4 and run up to September 8. After that, trainers will then go to provinces and train officers.
“Once training is done, we will be in a position to know the date when voter registration will start. We will engage our superiors, and President Mugabe will proclaim the date when the voter registration process will commence.”
Justice Makarau also clarified that both valid metal and plastic national identity cards will be accepted during registration. “I want to take this opportunity to take a clear position on documents required for voter registration. The current position is that Zec will accept all valid national identification cards, which are the old metal ID cards and the plastic ID cards. This is so as long as these documents are legitimate.
“If any of them are illegible, we will refer them back to the Registrar-General’s Office for verification. So, at this point in time, we would also want to encourage those with problems around IDs to go to the RG’s Office.”
Registrar-General Mr Tobaiwa Mudede said mobile registration of IDs as well as birth and death certificates will be co-ordinated via district administrators, starting tomorrow.
He said: “We are working throughout the weekend. We do not want to impose anything as head office, so our district administrators will be providing the requisite information on areas where our mobile teams will be issuing the IDs; birth and death certificates. “So by (Sunday evening) we will be done and in a position to release a comprehensive programme list.”
Zimbabwe heads to the polls next year and is using BVR technology for the first time. BVR aims to eliminate multiple voting by analysing one’s physical characteristics such as fingerprints in situ. Zec is mandated by the Constitution to register voters and manage the voters’ roll, a role previously conducted by the RG’s Office.
The Commission expects to register at least 7 million potential voters, though the technology has capacity to capture biometric data of 16 million-plus people. According to Zec’s plan, the BVR exercise is likely to run from October to December.
A total of 3 000 BVR kits will be used, with the exercise taking place at 9 663 centres countrywide.
Each kit will register about 6 400 prospective voters.
Recently, biometrics expert Dr Samuel Chindaro implored Zec to take appropriate measures to mitigate any risks associated with BVR.
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