FORMER education minister, David Coltart, was on Tuesday made to wait for almost two hours at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) offices in Bulawayo as the Biometric Voter Registrations (BVR) machines failed to recognize the human rights lawyer’s finger prints.
ZEC officials had to call for a technician to attend to the faulty kits although he failed to solve the problem.
This signifies the technological challenges that both ZEC and people have to contend with as they go through the registration process.
After several attempts to register as a voter, Coltart was eventually partially registered after the BVR machine managed to recognise only five of his ten finger prints.
“It took me a very long time to get registered today. After one hour and 45 minutes of trying and bringing a technician, ZEC officials were able to record only five of my ten finger prints. Eventually they compromised and they recorded the five and they said the machine could not register the other finger prints,” said Coltart.
Although Coltart’s voter registration details were incomplete ZEC officials maintained the former minister will be able to cast his vote during the forthcoming elections.
“ZEC officials said the anomaly is not a problem because when you vote apparently one uses thump prints. In this case both of my thumb prints were recorded.
“I am worried because it does show the technical defects of the system and what about a rural person, what about a person who does not have the profile that I have? Are they going to be treated the same way the ZEC officials did to me?” asked Coltart.
However, this raises questions as to what will happen to the less fortunate people, who do not enjoy privileges associated with that of the former education minister.
It is prudent to ask whether ZEC will be able to accommodate them and show the same courtesy that was extended to the former Minister.
Coltart said he foresaw disaster if the BVR hitches currently experienced were not addressed as a matter of urgency.
“The system is a potential problem if the machines are not adjusted. If you do mathematics on what happened to me, then it will take a vast amount of time to get everyone registered. In a rushed process where you have an old person or it happens in the rural areas, will ZEC give the affected the same amount of time and patience that was given to me?” asked Coltart.
The human rights lawyer advised ZEC to urgently seek redress with the manufactures of the machines.
“The machines need to be adjusted so that they pick up these finger prints because it is a serious problem .The fundamental identification is the finger print and so if it is not recognising the print it goes to the core of the system,” he added.
ZEC awarded Chinese firm, Laxton Group of Companies, to BVR kits ahead of Demalog Identification Systems, a German company widely regarded to be technically superior and better experienced compared to the Chinese firm.
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