The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has made a surprise turn around announcing that there will be no biometric voting. Among the companies that made a bid to provide biometric equipment was the discredited NIKUV, raising fears among Zimbabweans of another rigged election.
However, the state media reports that there will be no biometric or any electronic voting in next year’s harmonised elections as the new technology that the Zimbabwe Electrical Commission is set to acquire will only be confined to voter registration.Although the voting system remains the same, those who fail to register afresh using the biometric technology would not be eligible to vote. The biometric voter registration, which is expected to start in March, would capture biometrics such as a person’s unique physical traits and finger prints among other things.
These features can be detected and recorded by an electronic device as a means of confirming identity. Zec chairperson Justice Rita Makarau told The Herald yesterday that nothing, in terms of voting, would change.
“The biometric technology is for voter registration only,” she said. “It’s not biometric or electronic voting. The technology is going to assist us to compile a bit more accurate voters’ roll. When it comes to voting. we use our usual process like the one we used in the recent Bikita West by election.”
Justice Makarau said at least 12 companies had submitted bids to supply the biometric voter registration kits. She said all the bids were being evaluated with a view to come up with the final three.
“We will invite the last three to bring their kits for demonstration before we settle for the final supplier,” she said. “We expect to do the demonstrations in early February after which the final supplier would be announced.”
Among other things, Zec would also embark on massive voter education campaigns likely to start during the first quarter of this year. Justice Makarau was optimistic that everything would be in place before the elections.
Recently, Justice Makarau said the new biometric voters’ roll would contain the so-called ghost voters.
“Because we are capturing people’s biometrics, the dead will not be on the voters’ roll because they won’t be able to present their biometrics,” Justice Makarau said.
“Only the living with fingerprints and their faces will be able to present themselves. To that extent, our voters’ roll is going to be very accurate. The biometric voter registration kits are coming with a software that detects multiple or double registrations. Your face and fingerprints would help us to weed out all those who try to register twice.”
Justice Makarau went on: “Because human beings are prone to die anytime, some of those registered may die before voting day and we may have a few of those remaining on the voters’ roll. Do not come to us and say so and so died two days ago and is still on the voters’ roll.”
The biometric voters’ roll would be polling station-based, meaning that the name of a voter will only appear at a particular polling station.
Justice Makarau allayed fears that capturing a person’s biometrics would intimidate the voter saying biometric voter registration was “a voter registration technology which had nothing to do with what will happen on the voting day.”
The electoral body is engaging political parties at regular intervals and had since agreed to form nine sub-committees that would assist it to prepare for the polls. – State Media