As presidential elections loom, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai accuses Israeli company of tampering with Zimbabwe’s voters’ roll in favour of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party
Claire Horn by Claire Horn 2013-07-22 16:59
Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is accusing an Israeli company, Nikuv International Projects, of tampering with Zimbabwe’s voters’ roll ahead of 31 July 2013 elections. Opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), accused Nikuv of attempting to rig the elections on behalf of Robert Mugabe’s party, the Zimbabwe African National Union — Patriotic Front (ZANU PF).
Nikuv, which specialises in population registration and election systems is accused of providing technical support to the former ruling party in order to manipulate the voters’ roll.
MDC party leader Tsvangirai made allegations against Nikuv during a meeting with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in Harare led by Justice Rita Makarau, who is said to have promised to look into the accusations.
An MDC statement claimed: â€œNikuv is working on the voters’ roll at the Defence House, the headquarters of the Zimbabwe Defence Force and the company is a front for the Israeli spy agency Mossad.” However, they offered no evidence to support this claim.
A representative of Nikuv’s, Ron Asher, said, â€œIt is election time and people are trying to throw mud from this side and the other side. We are legitimate and professional. We have never been involved in any politics, not now or ever.” Asher said that Nikuv works with public sectors worldwide but failed to say which government bodies it was associated with in Zimbabwe.
The Israel-based company have been managing Zimbabwe’s voters’ roll since 1994, after they were controversially granted a tender to upgrade the computer systems at the registrar general’s office.
Tsvangirai argues that the company is now working under the direction of Daniel Tonde Nhepera, the deputy head of the Zimbabwe’s internal security arm, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).
The electronic voters’ roll has only been available to the public for less than a week yet there have been several complaints regarding irregularities. Some people checking their names on the new vote registration website www.myzimvote.com claim their names do not appear, despite having registered, whereas others claim their names appear in places they have never lived in before.
This is not the first time that Nikuv has come under scrutiny for their involvement in election rigging in the region, most notably in the recent Ghanian elections according to African Confidential editor Patrick Smith.