The British government on Monday said it supported biometric voter registration in Zimbabwe as long as the process was transparent and designed to ensure that all voters, including young and urban voters, are able to register and vote.
Speaking in the House of Lords, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said the BVR was crucial because weaknesses in voter registration were a major cause of the grave concerns Britain expressed over the 2013 elections which President Robert Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front won overwhelmingly.
Some 304 890 voters were turned away in the 2013 elections representing 8.7 percent of the voters.
Lord Ahmad was responding to a question from Lord Pattern who wanted an assessment of the BVR which is being implemented in Zimbabwe with the support of the United Nations Development Programme.
The European Union has provided some funds for the programme through UNDP.
“We support the principle of Biometric Voter Registration as long as the process itself is transparent and designed to ensure that all voters, including young and urban voters, are able to register and subsequently vote freely without fear of violence or intimidation,” he said.
“Transparent storage and management of the data included on the register is crucial and the register must be made available to political parties in a timely way.”
Opposition parties were not provided the voters’ register in 2013 leading to accusations of rigging and tampering with the roll.
A Chinese company, the Laxton Group, was awarded the tender to provide the BVR kits.