By Staff Reporter
With only a year left, Zimbabweans will in 2018 held its general elections; previously the ruling Zanu-PF party has been accused by opposition political parties for vote rigging, marking elections contacted over the past decade as null and void.
Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) is a nominally independent organisation which controls elections at all levels in Zimbabwe. Zec’s independence has been hugely compromised following interference by the Zanu-PF party.
In the 2018 elections Zimbabweans for the first time will shift from analogue to digital, migrating to the biometric voting process.
Currently, opposition parties are at loggerheads with government following its decision to take over the procurement of Biometric Voters Registration (BVR) kits from a long-time partner, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Responding to a motion by the MDC-T vice president Thokozani Khupe during the question and answer session last week on Wednesday Vice President Emerson Mnangagwa dismissed allegations that government had taken over the acquisition of the BVR kit. Initially Mnangagwa told the parliamentarians that government had secured the total amount needed for the purchase of the BVR equipment.
“The Government of Zimbabwe has agreed to provide the US$17 million required to buy that equipment. The question of specifications as to what types of gadgets are going to be bought is technical. The Government of Zimbabwe is not involved. It is ZEC with its own technical experts identifying equipment and there are so many companies that have come forward, who are offering specifications that have been put forward”.
“So, it is not true that the Government of Zimbabwe is now running the elections; it has advanced $17 million to ZEC to acquire the BVR kit. I think every single Zimbabwean who is patriotic will feel proud that we are totally independent in finding resources to acquire equipment for ourselves rather than getting it from some other sources”, mockingly, Mnangagwa answered.
VP Mnangagwa said government was also concerned with the issue of free, fair and transparent general elections.
MDC-T Vice President Nelson Chamisa raised a supplementary question on why government was backtracking, after it had been agreed that the United Nations (UN), through the UNDP, would procure the biometric machines.
Mnangagwa dodged Chamisa’s question saying government had not cut ties with UNDP but the money that was required for the purchase of the BVR kit will be used for other key areas like capacity building.
Glen View North legislator Fani Munengami questioned VP Mnangagwa why government which was not doing well in terms of finances had refused to partner with UNDP who wanted to assist with the procurement of the BVR kit.
“We have challenges in hospitals because we are unable to remunerate doctors who are on strike. On 20th February, there is a woman called Caroline Dube who passed away”, Munengami queried citing a recent case of a woman who had died because of the strike.
Mnangangwa maintained his stance and implored opposition parties to approach ZEC should they have an grievances concerning the electoral process.