2018 polls: Tsvangirai backs BVR

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MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has given the thumbs-up to Chinese company, Laxton Group Limited, which recently won a tender to supply biometric voter registration (BVR) kits for next year’s general elections, saying the firm had acquitted itself well after being endorsed by the United Nations to carry out similar projects in other countries.


The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) last month picked Laxton Group for the emotive job, amid howls of disapproval from opposition parties, including the MDC-T.

But Tsvangirai told thousands of party supporters in Gweru at the weekend that he had no qualms with the Laxton Group or the BVR system.

“I want to tell you, BVR will not be manipulated,” he said.

“These Chinese were chosen by the United Nations and have done work in other countries. Do not be scared or doubt them just because they are Chinese.”

MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu, who had previously expressed reservations over the Chinese firm’s capacity, yesterday made a U-turn, saying Tsvangirai’s weekend pronouncements annulled all other statements from the party in the past.

“Our president is our chief party spokesperson and whatever he has said, supersedes all other statements we have issued on any issue,” he said.

In the run-up to the 2013 general elections, Tsvangirai said he had confidence in Zec and its chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau, only to turn around following his defeat and accuse the election management body of having tampered with the poll results in connivance with the military.

Asked if such vacillation would not affect the image of the party, Gutu said the party had learnt “hard lessons”.

“We have learnt from past experiences and have experts on the ground to make sure that the BVR process is not manipulated. We will try everything humanly possible

to guard against that. I wish I was a prophet, but 2013 is not 2017,” he said.

Gutu said the MDC-T had resolved to set up a team of election experts to monitor Laxton’s handling of the voter registration process to curb possible manipulation of the collected data.

“The fear factor regarding the BVR system is being effectively addressed by our technical experts, so the people of Zimbabwe should turn out in their millions to register to vote,” he said.

“Voter apathy is one of the biggest enemies of democracy.

“We have got our eyes on the ball. We will not allow the Chinese company, Laxton Group Limited, to manipulate the BVR process. We have a very competent technical group, but, of course, for strategic reasons, I’m not at liberty to disclose the identities of this computer-savvy technical team.”

Gutu said, for now, his party had decided to focus on a massive voter mobilisation campaign targeting the youth.

“We have engaged on an aggressive outreach programme to conscientise Zimbabweans, particularly the youth, on the need to register to vote and also to ensure that they cast their ballots on polling day,” he continued.

“Our strategy has been informed by the need to make sure that voter apathy is destroyed and that millions of Zimbabweans turn out to vote on election day.”

People’s Democratic Party spokesperson Jacob Mafume said his party also welcomed the extension of BVR to election processes.

“We have no quarrel with BVR. If anything, we already have passports and identity cards in biometric form,” he said.

“The extension of this to electoral processes should not frighten Zimbabweans. Our hope is that the Chinese, in becoming a global superpower, will exercise such power with a bit of morality.

“Our gripe with the Chinese, as well as companies from that country, has been on their past conduct. They have tended to be a friend of and loyal to Zanu PF than Zimbabwe.”

MDC spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said his party respected MDC-T’s decision, although it still had reservations over the Chinese firm.

“Zec is the constitutional body with the mandate to run elections in Zimbabwe,” he said.

“Whatever decision they have made, we accept, although we have reservations on the choice of the Chinese company.

“We are not sure if the choice was made on technical grounds or inspired by Zanu PF’s relationship with the Chinese.

“But I must emphasise that we have no appetite to fight the award of the tender. We are going to concentrate on mobilisation of our supporters.”

The opposition also claimed the 2013 election was rigged by Zanu PF with help from a shadowy Israeli firm known as Nikuv International Projects. – NewsDay