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ZEC Must Prove BVR Tender Process Was Clean - ERC

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By Moses Chibaya

Harare, June 07, 2017 – THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) must own up and prove to all that it was never arm-twisted by government to award the Chinese Company, Laxton Group Limited the tender to supply the much awaited Biometric Voter Registration kits, a poll watchdog has said.

Although accepting the firm excelled during presentations to choose the ultimate winner, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) still feels ZEC can do a lot of good to sceptical citizens the process was above board.

"...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,” ERC executive director Tawanda Chimhini said Tuesday.

"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."

ERC has been part of the observation team during the site validation test of BVR kits.

The poll watchdog reiterated its calls for 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," Chimhini said.

Chimhini added by urging the relevant authorities in particular the Parliament of Zimbabwe to expedite the alignment of the Electoral Act with the Constitution.

"The 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," he said.

Most importantly, the ERC said "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 practise are in sync with the provisions of the Constitution."

The organisation compelled ZEC to be accountable and ensure a timeous release of voter registration regulations and the roadmap to the voter registration process.

The ERC called on stakeholders to pay particular attention to ensuring that the upcoming voter registration exercise conforms to international voter registration principles including "integrity, inclusiveness, accessibility, transparency, accountability, and an informed electorate."

The country’s preparations for the high stakes 2018 elections have been mired in controversy with strong fears Zanu PF’s influence on State processes could swing the vote in the ruling party’s favour again.

President Robert Mugabe’s party maintains its hands were clean on the processes and instead accuses its opponents of being cry babies.

 

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