By Buhle Tshavango
Almost two months after the completion of validation tests for biometric voter registration (BVR) kits by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) results of the winning bidder are yet to be announced.
A technical committee made up of UNDP and Zec evaluated bids for BVR kits to be used in the upcoming 2018 harmonised elections and came up with three companies that were invited for site validation tests. One of the three companies, Zetes from Belgium, withdrew from the process
Two international companies namely Laxton Group Limited from China and Dermalog Identification Systems from Germany were shortlisted to supply Zimbabwe with biometric voter registration (BVR) kits and completed their validation tests in April.
Delays in announcing the winning bidder has raised eyebrows as Laxton Group Limited had come out tops in the tests conducted.
As part of the testing process by ZEC , the two sample kits were each dropped from a height of 1.5 metres before being put under water to test their resistance. Laxton Group Limited kits withstood the test whilst Dermalog identification systems’ kits encountered slight glitches.
In the time tests conducted the Laxton Group limited emerged winners by a 30 minute margin
Evaluators seem to be taking their time to decide which company deserves the tender.
Dermalog Identification systems a leading company in the field of biometric identification for more than 25 years required US$5.5 million for its kits whilst Laxton Group Limited a global self service terminal, digital signage and e-government jump kit manufacturer required US$4 million.
Zec chairperson, Rita Makarau is on record to have said that the final decision on which kit to purchase would be made in line with provisions of the State Procurement Act.
After loss of faith in the voters rolls with allegations of excessive rigging and corruption the use of BVR kits was introduced to restore voter confidence .The delay in the announcement of the winner has sent tongues wagging with fears of returning to the old system,