Nikuv’s election bounty heightens suspicions

The Zimbabwe registrar general’s office paid Nikuv Projects International an average of $200 000 every two and a half days for five months in the run-up to Zimbabwe’s controversial July 31 general elections, with the frequency of payments increasing as the election date drew nearer, the opposition party will argue.

The Movement for Democratic Change says the registrar general’s office, which compiled the voters’ roll and carried out voter registration on behalf of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), manipulated the roll with the assistance of Nikuv, an Israeli-based company.

Nikuv’s role in the election has been a hot topic and forms part MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai argument that the results of the elections should be nullified and new elections be called within 60 days.

In his Constitutional Court application, Tsvangirai produced evidence of payments to Nikuv, including telegraphic money transfer references between February and July 2013, to prove the company’s involvement.

The registrar general paid a total of close to $10.6-million to Nikuv in the five months preceding the election.

The registrar-general did not respond to questions about what these payments were for.

The special vote
On July 9, a week before the special vote, the registrar general’s office paid $200 700 to Nikuv and a day after that poll, it transferred $200 600 to Nikuv. On July 12, Nikuv received $201 000, and another payment was made on July 18.

The special vote was marred by the inability of thousands of soldiers and police to cast their votes owing to logistical problems, mainly a lack of ballot papers.

On July 22, $200 500 was paid into Nikuv’s account and a day later an additional $199 700 was paid. Two payments, one of $200 100 and the other of $177 620, were made on July 25, and an additional payment of $200 250 was made on July 26.

A day before the elections, Nikuv again received $200 000 from the registrar general.

The MDC-T said the payments to Nikuv were suspicious, given the fact that the ZEC and the registrar general had in the recent past denied the involvement of Nikuv in the ­preparation of the voters’ roll.

It could not be established whether Nikuv received any further money after the election.

The MDC said that, as a result of the alleged manipulation, thousands of people were turned away after their names were not found on the voters’ roll, and others found their names in constituencies and wards they did not reside in.

A local nongovernmental organisation, the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network, estimated that 750 000 people were turned away from polling stations, although the ZEC put the figure at 304 890.

In addition, some people appeared on the voters’ roll more than once, raising suspicions of double voting, whereas the names of thousands of dead people were still listed on the roll.

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