The Sunday Mail
Brian Chitemba and Lincoln Towindo
THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has awarded the tender to supply Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits ahead of the 2018 harmonised elections to a Chinese company, Laxton Group Limited. The tender was awarded after weeks of bid assessments and site validation tests after which a recommendation was made to the State Procurement Board (SPB).
ZEC chair Justice Rita Makarau yesterday confirmed the latest developments.
She said, “Our team is negotiating the terms of contract of supply with a team from the selected supplier. Once the terms are agreed upon we will then advise on the dates of delivery and date of commencement of the registration exercise.” Laxton Group was awarded the tender after it proposed a US$3,9 million budget to supply the BVR kits while another bidder Demalog Identification Systems of German charged US$5,5 million.
The Sunday Mail understands that Zec chief elections officer Mrs Constance Chigwamba announced the awarding of the tender on Tuesday last week.
The initial tender was for 1 600 kits but the electoral commission now requires 3 000 kits composed of 2 900 general kits and 100 districts kits. While no comment could immediately be obtained from Laxton Group yesterday, the company has been active in Africa after it supplied 8 000 kits and instant Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) card issuance kits to Tanzania in 2015.
It has also worked in Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique where it reportedly supplied BVR kits, generators, batteries and other accessories for voter registration and elections.
Laxton Group’s system has also been used on identification cards in Malawi. Prior to the awarding of the tender, the kits underwent water and shock resistance tests. As part of the tests, the kits from Laxton Group and Demalog were dropped 1,5 metres before being put under a torrent of water for 10 seconds to check resistance.
Kits belonging to Laxton Group were not affected while the Demalog equipment suffered a glitch only to go back online after about 15 minutes.
Under the watch of political parties, civil society organisations, Government officials, independent commissions, the media and Zec cooperate partners, the kits were taken through time testing on the number of voters registered per hour and per day, with Latxon Group kits finishing 30 minutes faster. The voter registration for the 2018 harmonised elections will be done biometrically and this will help eliminate the so-called ghost voters. Biometric is a process which electronically detects and records a person’s unique physical traits as a means of confirming identity.
The BVR kits procurement is part of preparations for the 2018 elections where voters will only cast the ballot at one polling station within a voter’s ward. In an effort to manage the queues Zec says a maximum of 1 500 voters will be allowed per polling station.