The Zimbabwean government has reversed an earlier agreement with UNDP on the procurement of Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits. In 2016, the government had rung alarm bells to the donor community requesting for financial and technical assistance for the purchase of the BVR kits for US$17 million.
However, last week the President Mugabe’s government announced that it was taking over the procurement process effectively disallowing UNDP the right to source the BVR kits a process the opposition parties had applauded and described as a transparency and independent from government influence.
The issue has created a rift with the opposition party’s under the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) banner who have threaten massive protests against the government’s latest move.
The BVR kits are part of several reforms designed to ensure a fair poll and minimize errors ahead of the much anticipated 2018 general elections. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is expected to start using the kits end of March for a massive voter registration which it expects to conclude by the end of the year.
UNDP had done most of the ground work for the procurement of the kits. In December 2016 UNDP floated a tender where companies provided their bids in a process which was coordinated from Copenhagen, Denmark.
It remains to be seen how the latest impasse between government and opposition will end. For ZEC, registration of voters will be a mammoth task considering the disputes that have been generated with the current voters roll which it seeks to discard.