Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa was yesterday taken to task over the government’s decision to finance the biometric voter registration exercise which political parties had initially agreed would be funded by the United Nations Development Programme to ensure transparency, openness and scrutiny.
Mnangagwa said there was nothing sinister about the cash-strapped government’s decision to raise the $17 million required. It had advanced the money to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission which would run the show.
“The Government of Zimbabwe has agreed to provide the US$17 million required to buy that equipment,” he said in response to a question from Movement for Democratic Change vice-president Thokozani Khupe.
“The question of specifications as to what type of gadgets are going to be bought is technical. The Government of Zimbabwe is not involved. It is ZEC with its own technical experts identifying equipment and there are so many companies that have come forward, who are offering specifications that have been put forward.
“So, it is not true that the Government of Zimbabwe is itself running (the exercise); it has advanced $17 million to ZEC to acquire. I think every single Zimbabwean who is patriotic will feel proud that we are totally independent in finding resources to acquire equipment for ourselves rather than getting it from some other sources. We are all concerned with the issue of a fair, transparent general elections and would want to achieve that,” he said.
But most of the opposition legislators were not satisfied with the Vice-President’s response.
Below is the full debate:
HON. KHUPE: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. My question is directed to the Leader of the House, Hon. Vice President Mnangagwa. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, together with political parties agreed that the biometric voter registration kits procurement was going to be done through UNDP so that there is transparency, openness and scrutiny. According to media reports, Government has said it is going to be responsible for the procurement. This is a serious assault on the independence of ZEC. Mr. Speaker Sir, we are all looking forward to a free, fair and credible election and that can only be realised when processes such as biometric voter registration are done in an open and transparent manner. Why is it that Government has now reneged on the agreement by ZEC and political parties that the biometric voter registration kits procurement is going to be done through UNDP.
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