Zimbabwe’s opposition parties which belong to the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) are planning to hold nationwide demonstrations against the government’s move to take over the procurement of the biometric voter registration (BVR) kits.
Recently the Zimbabwe government through the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) stated that it was taking over the procurement of BVR kits from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
According to Newsday, NERA has said that the government’s decision which it describes as a hijacking proves that ZEC is a captured institution and that President Robert Mugabe is resolved to rig the 2018 general elections.
The BVR kits are the primary tool for the new voter registration process which is expected to be carried out this year in preparation for the 2018 National Elections.
The Biometric system uses individual verification based on fingerprints and facial recognition and it has been touted as one of the ways that there can be fair elections without a compromised voters’ roll that has ghost voters.
At a cost of US$50 million, the government had struggled to meet the financial requirements for the procurement and UNDP had stepped in to provide the resources.
The government’s financial fortunes haven’t changed lately, which has raised suspicions about its motivations for replacing UNDP and questions about how it intends to complete the elections process.
The Newsday also reported that the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has challenged the government to come up with a clear roadmap for the biometric voter registration (BVR) process.
ZESN has cited ZEC’s budgetary constraints which have raised concerns that the registration process might be delayed ultimately affecting the 2018 elections.
In light of other developments in African democratic processes, the concerns being raised by ZESN and NERA aren’t far-fetched.
Recently the Democratic Republic of Congo announced a delay of its own elections after the budget minister said he doubted whether the country could find the funds to hold a poll this year.
Calling for transparency on how the elections are supposed to be funded ought to help avoid such instances and excuses.
image credit – VOA Zimbabwe