Stop using faulty BVR - Ukawa

Ukawa Chairman Professor, Ibrahim Lipumba
Political opposition parties forming the Coalition of People’s Constitution (Ukawa) has appealed to the National Electoral Committee (NEC) to halt the ongoing registration of voters using Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) because of reported irregularities in Njombe Region.
Ukawa Chairman Professor Ibrahim Lipumba told journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the ongoing exercise in Njombe Region has shown errors including the possibility of one person to register  in different voting stations.
According to him, there is no network system and hence one can only be identified where he had been registered. With this, he said, one can register at many centres. 
He also noted that the timeframe for creating awareness and registering the voters countrywide is insufficient.
Recently, during his visit to China, President Jakaya Kikwete announced the opinion poll exercise would be April 30, this year.
According to chairman, President Kikwete intervened in the duties of the NEC chairman by making such announcement.
Professor Lipumba explained that NEC chairman is the only person mandated to announce the date since it is monitored and supervised by his office.
“The statement shocked us since the time is too short to complete the BVR exercise. On top of that there will be no time to verify the voter’s registry. We urge NEC chairman to explain to stakeholders in details how the exercise can be successfully accomplished,” he said.
Lipumba elaborated that the law stresses that there should be timeframe for the voters and other stakeholders to review and verify the BVR.
The chairman called on NEC to suspend the exercise to get enough time for reviews and verification so as to avoid errors and confusion.
“On behalf of Ukawa, I would like to call on NEC to suspend the exercise for improvements. Failure to do so might invite a political crisis,” he said.
Citing an example in Njombe, he said people were not registered because some of the  BVR machines failed to capture fingerprints.
Meanwhile, Ukawa Co-chairman Freeman Mbowe said that machines that are in use for BVR exercise in Njombe Region were only 82 and not 250.
He said the rest were being used for practice and experience purposes in other parts of the country.
Mbowe pointed out that one machine can serve only 55 people per day therefore it is not easy to complete the exercise of more than 24 million voters on time.
On January 15, this year leaders of UKAWA declared in Dar es Salaam that their members would not participate in the coming referendum slated to take place at the end of April, this year.
Briefing newsmen, Ukawa co-chairman Professor Ibrahim Lipumba said that they had come to the decision after having interpreted and discussed ongoing preparations as currently being handled by the ruling party and that there were lots of irregularities in the process.
The ruling party which spearheads the use of the BVR system did not incorporate the political opposition parties and other stakeholders on how it works and the various types of software to be used in the application,he said. 
It is from this point of view that questions related to illiteracy about the software come in as no one among them knows exactly how the system would operate, he said.
“However, among other reasons the whole constitutional making process was tampered with and monopolised by members of the ruling party during the Constituent Assembly (CA) is questionable while Ukawa members were absent,” he said.

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