Policy think tank group, IMANI Africa has justified why it will be a bad idea for the Electoral commission to procure new biometric machines ahead of the 2020 general elections.
According to the group, procuring these machines and compiling a new voter’s register will cost the country US$150million should the commission decide to make the move.
Giving a breakdown of the risk factors of the intended move by the EC, Honorary Vice President of IMANI, Bright Simons, said previous purchases of software and biometric verification devices (BVDs) suggests that the budgetary allocation for the current system is questionable.
“This is not necessarily about this administration. This has been going on for years and it turns out that we are spending too much. You all have an idea of how much a laptop, camera and scanner costs, and you put it together and add a printer. When someone tells you that it’s US$3,500 to US$4,000, you don’t have to be a genius to know. You have to start wondering whether we are getting value for money. And it is not therefore surprising that countries like Zimbabwe and the like, get it far cheaper than we do. We are spending at most three times more than what Zimbabwe does,” he said.
“When we add all that up, it comes to one simple conclusion that since 2011, it is a lie that we have not bought any new equipment and we’ve spent millions of dollars. From the parliamentary records, we’ve seen almost US$80 million since then buying new things. So if we have to do anything, we just have to do a little more repairs, do a little maintenance, buy a few things, and that will not get you to the US$74 million that they said you need to improve the current system.”
“…If you add all of that, you add contingency and the unnecessary registration of 17 million people all over again, you are getting close to US$150 million of our money being blown for reasons that nobody can explain in this country.”
He added that the Special Budget Committee of Parliament is aware of such purchases and must advise the Commission.