Zimbabwe: Outcry As Mugabe Govt Chooses Chinese Firm for Voter Registration
Zimbabwe's main opposition MDC party has criticised the selection of a Chinese firm to supply equipment for the registration of voters ahead of the 2018 polls.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chose Laxton Group over German firm, Demalog Identification Systems.
Comfortable with China
"When you look at the historical links between Zanu-PF as a party and Zanu-PF as a government - it has very strong ties with the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist party," Movement for Democratic Change spokesperson Obert Gutu told News24.
"Obviously the Zanu-PF government was more comfortable dealing with a Chinese company, which will be used to front for the other shenanigans that will be done by the Zanu-PF government," he added.
Zimbabwe is due to hold presidential and parliamentary elections next year. Mugabe will be 94 if he stands for re-election, as he has indicated he is likely to.
The two companies, Laxton and Demalog, underwent trials of their equipment in April. Reports at the time said Laxton's equipment performed marginally better, quicker and was cheaper.
A fresh electronic voters roll and the capture of voters' unique faces and fingerprints are seen as key to safeguarding the integrity of next year's vote. Zimbabwe's current voters' rolls is said to contain hundreds of thousands of names of dead or departed voters, which critics say could be used to rig elections.
Suspicions of rigging are still high in the opposition ranks after Israeli IT firm Nikuv was accused of helping to rig the 2013 results in favour of President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF. The Mugabe government denies there was rigging.
The MDC says it's convinced the choice of a Chinese company to help compile the fresh voters' roll could sway things in favour of Mugabe's party come 2018.
"We think the Zanu-PF government would have found it extremely difficult to manipulate the German company Demalog to play the dirty tricks that we know the government is up to," Gutu said.
In a separate statement, he called on Zimbabweans to register en masse to neutralise any attempts at rigging.
"The people of Zimbabwe are guaranteed of winning against the Zanu-PF dictatorship provided they register to vote in their millions in order to circumvent and short circuit the evil and malevolent vote rigging machinery that ZEC is desperately trying to put in place," Gutu said.