By Nkanyiso Ncube
THE Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has called upon the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to expedite the procurement of the software for the central database or central Automated Finger Identification System (AFIS) as it an integral component of Biometric Voter Registration (BVR).
The AFIS is a biometric identification (ID) method that uses digital imaging technology to obtain, store, and analyse fingerprint data.
In a statement, ZESN said “While the BVR kits will capture each voter’s fingerprints, facial photograph and other personal information such as name, surname, sex, address, another integral component of the BVR system is the AFIS.
“Thus the quality of the central database and AFIS software in use will affect the ability to store all pertinent registration data and the speed with which the registration details will be processed in order to check for duplicate records in the entire database”.
The election watchdog urged ZEC to procure the software through an open tender since BVR exercise is expected to begin soon.
“ZESN believes that in light of the tight timelines provided by the commission regarding the commencement of the BVR exercise, it is imperative for ZEC to timely procure the software for the central database and the AFIS through an open tender. In addition, there is need to procure relevant equipment such as backup remote servers that will be stored in secure places,” read part of the statement.
ZESN warned ZEC against purchasing vendor locked systems as it is likely to increase the cost of running and maintaining the BVR system equipment.
In order to enhance stakeholder confidence in the data management systems, ZESN said ZEC should adopt the open data policy, where information to stakeholders is provided timeously, so as to make all stages of the voter registration process more transparent.
Earlier this year ZEC deputy chief elections officer, Utloile Silaigwana, said they were targeting to register at least seven million voters when the biometric voter registration exercise begins and the process was expected to be complete in two months.
ZEC has purchased 3 000 BVR kits and of these, 2 658 would be distributed to provinces on a pro-rata basis while 342 would be placed as backup kits.
A total of 9 663 voter registration centres will be established across the country.