Zec sets tough terms for BVR trial observers – DailyNews

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HARARE – The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) yesterday laid out strict conditions for those accredited to observe the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits site validation tests.

Briefing the media in Harare, the Commission’s chairperson Rita Makarau said the observers — political parties and civil society organisations — were not allowed to ask any questions or interview bidders and assessors.

Two companies will make presentations and test their kits in laboratories and in the field, during the five-day process.

The bidders are Chinese firm Laxton Group limited and Dermalog Identification Systems from Germany.

Another shortlisted bidder, ZETES from Belgium, withdrew for unknown reasons.

“Our invitation to you to observe this important stage is part of Zec’s initiative to ensure stakeholder participation in its activities and to enhance transparency in all its electoral processes,” Makarau said. 

“You will therefore be able to . . . observe the site validation tests of their (bidders) respective kits to assess whether they are fit for purpose,” she said.

“You are, however, not to interfere with any of the processes . . . no questions or interviews are to be made with those assigned to carry out specific tasks during these tests.”

Makarau added: “As observers, you will be expected to make written recommendations to Zec after the tests. Your recommendations will assist Zec in making a decision on the award of the tender.”

According to Makarau, the tests must conform with supplied specifications which include having a laptop, webcam, light source, photo background material, fingerprint scanner, thermal printer and solar power kit among others will be under scrutiny.

The field tests will be conducted on April 24 at Mabvuku High School in Harare and Murape Secondary School in Seke on April 25.

The field tests will see 150 pupils from each school below 18 participate in a mock BVR exercise. Shock and waterproof tests will also be conducted

Zec chief elections officer Constance Chigwamba said: “Everyone involved in the process including the technical assessors need to remain neutral and not either promote or discredit the bidder, solution or make any public statements about the site validation tests.