Which one is NIKUV? …as NERA conducts background check on BVR suppliers

By Daniel Chigundu

THE National Electoral Reforms Agenda (NERA) says it is doing background checks on the two shortlisted suppliers of Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits with a view to sniff-out the dreaded NIKUV.

NIKUV, a highly diversified and sophisticated Israeli company was said to be among the companies that had been shortlisted to supply the election equipment to Zimbabwe.

However Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced that only two of the three initially selected companies Laxton Group Systems from China and Dermalog Identification Systems from Germany will exhibit their kits and carry out laboratory and field tests.

Belgium based company Zetis is said to have withdrawn from the race for yet to be known reasons.

Fears are that NIKUV which has been accused on several occasion of helping Zanu PF rig elections in Zimbabwe could be hiding behind one of its many subsidiaries to win the tender.

NIKUV is not new to hiding behind its subsidiaries as during the time of the inclusive government, the diversified company supplied and installed irrigation equipment at MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s rural home  in Buhera, and went on to do the same for Thokozani Khupe without the two leaders having a clue of their identity.

In a statement NERA said every Zimbabwean deserves to know the identity of people and companies involved in the preparation of their polls and therefore it will do extensive digging on Laxton and Dermalog.

“The two companies have put up bids to provide biometric voter registration (BVR) kits and are arriving in the country this Wednesday ahead of site validation tests scheduled for the 24th  and 25th  of this month at Mabvuku High School and Murape Secondary School in Seke respectively.

“We are calling all citizens to do their due diligence and gather as much information as you can on the two firms. NERA is currently having extensive background checks conducted on the two firms.

“NERA believes that in the spirit of transparency the Zimbabwean citizens deserve to know everything related to those involved in Zimbabweans elections. We look forward to all your submissions which we will compile and include with our information and submit any discrepancies to ZEC,” read the statement.

The purpose of the site validation (according to ZEC) is to test conformity of the kits to specifications, durability and suitability of BVR in Zimbabwe.

Acquisition of BVR kits has been a very topical issue in Zimbabwe in the last three months following the announcement by ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau that government had taken over the purchasing of the equipment.

The development resulted in marathons of meetings between ZEC and opposition parties under the banner of NERA as it was said to be against the agreement that exists between the parties.

Zimbabwe is expecting to use the BVR kits to compile a new voters’ role that will be used for the impending 2018 general elections whose dates are subject to Presidential proclamation.

Which one is NIKUV, is it Laxton Group Systems or Dermalog Identification Systems? Only time will tell.

However NIKUV Africa manager Ron Asher told Tablet Magazine earlier this year that his companies is not in the business of election rigging but that of providing useful equipment.

“I always say that accusing us in election forgery is like accusing Microsoft when people use Explorer for sexual harassment. People would use the system the way they want to use the system, but from here and to blame the system manufacturer-the distance is very far. It’s like blaming Subaru for accidents on the road. It’s totally surreal,” he said

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