ZEC Must Come Out Clean On BVR Tender: ERC
The announcement by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) that they have awarded the tender to supply Biometric voter registration kits to a Chinese company Laxton Group Limited has sparked outrage in the country with electoral watchdog, Election Resource Centre calling on the electoral body to come out clean and prove they were not arm-twisted to hire the Chinese company.
ERC, which was part of the observation team during the site validation test of BVR kits acknowledged that “Laxton performed better”, but insist that ZEC must prove its independence in awarding the tender.
“However, ZEC must provide evidence that the Executive did not influence the decision to award the tender to Laxton in order to address perceptions around ZEC’s independence given the fact that the State Procurement Board was involved in the consideration of which company to pick.
“The Election Management Body must independently execute their mandate and must be seen to be independent as stipulated in the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the SADC principles and guidelines on elections which Zimbabwe is a signatory to,” said Tawanda Chimhini, ERC Executive Director.
He urged ZEC to address negative public perceptions by executing its mandate professionally and in a non partisan manner.
“The ERC further acknowledges that perceptions around the Executive’s relations with China may taint the competencies, integrity and capacity of Laxton to implement their contract without bias. In as much as it is critical to ensure that these perceptions are addressed through professional and non-partisan conduct by ZEC in administering voter registration, the focus of election stakeholders must extend beyond the choice of company set to supply the equipment for voter registration,” ERC said.
Chimhini urged Parliament of Zimbabwe to expedite the alignment of the Electoral Act with the Constitution.
“ERC in this regard insists on the full alignment of the Electoral Act with the Constitution ahead of key electoral processes without which the independence of ZEC and the constitutionality of electoral processes can be viewed with doubt,” Chimhini said.
ERC added that stakeholders must plug any loopholes that may compromise the integrity of the voter registration exercise by insisting on the full alignment of the Electoral Act with the Constitution to address crucial election credibility issues such as the independence of ZEC in administering all electoral processes which will go a long way in ensuring that policy and practice are in sync with the provisions of the Constitution.
The organization compelled ZEC to be accountable and ensure a timeous release of voter registration regulations and the road-map to the voter registration process.
ERC urged electoral stakeholders to pay particular attention in ensuring that the upcoming voter registration exercise conforms to international voter registration principles including “integrity, inclusiveness, accessibility, transparency, accountability, and an informed electorate.”