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Zimbabwe: Opposition Excluded From Biometric Voter Registration Field Test?

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has set stringent rules for observers witnessing the selection of a Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits supplier by barring them from asking questions or addressing the press during the BVR kits site validation test process, which started yesterday and ends on April 26.

The observers are not allowed to ask questions to the two shortlisted bidders - Laxton Group Limited of China and Dermalong Identification Systems of Germany - during the process which will include mock voter registrations at Mabvuku High School in Harare and Murape Secondary School in Seke.

The bidders have also been asked not to say anything about the process.

Addressing observers who included political party representatives, members of the civil society and religious groups among others in Harare yesterday, ZEC chairperson, Rita Makarau said observers were only allowed to confidentially submit their written observations and recommendations to ZEC.

"Please note that no questions or interviews are to be made with those assigned to carry out specific tasks during these tests," said Makarau.

"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," she said.

Each bidder has three kits, which ensures there is adequate backup in case of a malfunction.

Makarau said the tests shall be in two forms, namely laboratory and field tests.

"During the lab tests, conformity to supplied specifications, which include those of the laptop, webcam, light source, photo background material among others will be under scrutiny," she said.

On Saturday, the kits will be retrieved for lab tests before being taken out for training purposes on Sunday at Harare Polytechnic.

Field tests will take place between April 24-26, with Mabvuku and Murape secondary schools having already availed a combined 300 pupils of below the constitutional voting age of 18 for the mock BVR exercise.

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