Outrage over UNDP ‘ouster’ in voter registration kits deal

Source: Outrage over UNDP ‘ouster’ in voter registration kits deal – DailyNews Live

NEWS EDITOR      20 February 2017

HARARE – The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) may be forced to let the
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) procure Biometric Voter
Registration (BVR) kits, as calls to let the technical expert handle the
process grow louder.

Opposition parties and civil society are concerned over rigging and
credibility of the forthcoming 2018 presidential elections, after
government announced that it was going it alone in the acquisition of the
crucial kits.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Tendai Biti said he was
worried that less than 18 months to an election, there are shenanigans to
steal the vote.

“… the UNDP has been kicked out,” Biti fumed.

“Zanu PF is known for predatory, toxic politics. It is State capture. Zanu
PF is confirming that it has captured the Zec,” he said.

Acquisition of the BVR kits was supposed to be jointly financed by the
government and UNDP.

The stone-broke President Robert Mugabe’s government last week declared
that it had suddenly managed to raise $17 million that is needed to
acquire the BVR kits – targeted at minimising errors and prevent
accusations of foul play in the key 2018 poll.

Following this, the opposition fears Mugabe’s administration is hijacking
the process and blocking Zec from independently and transparently
acquiring the BVR kits so that a company they can manipulate will be
awarded the contract to supply the equipment.

Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) – the largest independent
observer group in the country – called for non-interference by the
Executive in the selection of the BVR kits vendor, reiterating that
government must avail adequate funding to Zec to enable it to execute its
mandate,” Zesn director, Rindai Chipfunde Vava, said

“The involvement of technical partners with experience in assisting
various other countries in implementing the BVR processes will improve
confidence and trust issues which have always been an issue in electoral
processes in Zimbabwe,” she said.

“It is vital that the government and Zec provide details of the take over
from UNDP regarding the procurement of the BVR kits and how the process
will be funded given the limited time left before the 2018 elections,”
Vava said.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa allocated a paltry $9,7 million to the
Zec against a required $59, 2 million.

Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC UK and Ireland branches called on British Prime
Minister Theresa May and the international community to tell Mugabe’s
government “that the procurement of BVR equipment should be allowed to
proceed as per UNDP process”.

“The UNDP itself must come out and tell Zimbabwean people what is going on
with regard to the tender for the purchase of the BVR equipment and what
measures they have in place to ensure that the election will be run
transparently,” said MDC UK and Ireland spokesperson, Makusha Mugabe.

“This is also the right time for the regional body Sadc and the African
Union to start getting engaged with Zimbabwe’s next election, not to wait
until two weeks before the election then mount a superficial and
ineffective election monitoring process,” he added.

The Electoral Act is silent on the procedures of the procurement of the
BVR equipment.