TWO international companies shortlisted to supply Zimbabwe with biometric voter registration (BVR) kits will today start site validation tests ahead of the 2018 harmonised elections.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
The two companies are Laxton Group Limited from China and Dermalog Identification Systems from Germany.
Initially, they were three, including ZETES from Belgium, which later pulled out.
Although there is consensus on the use of BVR, opposition parties accuse the government and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) of trying to manipulate the procurement process, thereby, disenfranchising them.
Zec chairperson, Rita Makarau yesterday said observers were welcome to view the process, but would not be allowed to interfere in any way in the validation process that starts today.
“The tests shall be in two forms, namely laboratory and field tests. During the laboratory tests, conformity to supplied specifications, which include those of the laptop, webcam, light source, photo background material, fingerprint scanner, thermal printer and solar power kit, among others, will be under scrutiny,” she said.
“The field tests will, inter alia (among others), involve testing the durability of the equipment, resistance to weather elements, processing speed, battery performance, efficiency of the webcam, lighting and fingerprint scanner,” she said.
The field tests, which include a mock voter registration of schoolchildren below the age of 18, will be done at Mabvuku High School in the capital and Murape Secondary School in Seke.
Makarau said initially 51 companies were interested in the tender, but 12 were forthcoming. They were reduced to three before the Belgian firm withdrew.
However, in a move expected to disappoint some observers and opposition parties, Zec said no one was at this stage expected to talk to bidders on anything because they were still in the bidding process and that observers were not allowed to go to the media or conduct interviews during the process.
Those with recommendations were asked to submit them in writing, as a way of promoting transparency.