Zec kick-starts BVR kits trials

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) yesterday conducted field trials for Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits at Mabvuku High School in Harare, with two bidders’ systems being put under the test.

Students from the school below the age of 18 were taken through a mock registration process to test the kits’ viability.

The bidders, Chinese firm Laxton Group Limited and Dermalog Identification Systems from Germany, each had two kits processing the registration of students, with one on standby in case the other crashes.

Observers, Zec officials, government officials and other stakeholders were at the venue assessing the progress of the mock registration.

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.

Today, the tests will be at Murape Secondary School in Seke.

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

Addressing observers last week, Makarau said the invitation to let observers take part in the trial process was meant to promote transparency of the process.

“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, including having a laptop, webcam, light source, photo background material, fingerprint scanner, thermal printer and solar power kit among others which will be under scrutiny.

Shock and waterproof tests will also be conducted.

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