MALAWIAN President Joyce Banda has roped in her new close ally President Robert Mugabe’s government and shadowy Israeli security company Nikuv International Projects to computerise the country’s home affairs department and supply voter registration cards as the country prepares for general elections in 2014, the Zimbabwe Independent has been informed.
This comes amid new revelations the recent local elections were rigged using the voters’ roll via a computer network whose server is kept at KG VI where a team of Nikuv’s software engineering experts was stationed to manipulate the voter register and influence the outcome.
Nikuv, hired by the Zimbabwe government, has links to the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad.
“A team of Nikuv computer experts were stationed at KG VI From Page 1
where there is the Registrar-General (RG)’s Office server and no one, except Nikuv personnel, the Registrar General (Tobaiwa Mudede) himself and senior military commanders, was allowed to have access,” a source said. “Even the top Information Technology expert in the RG’s Office had no access.”
Latest disclosures on the Nikuv saga show that Banda sent a Malawian team for attachment to Mudede’s offices which undertook the chaotic voter registration exercise and managed the shambolic voters’ roll ahead of the July 31 polls.
“Malawi has been computerising its systems and this is being done by a foreign company,” said a Malawian government source. “Some of the workers from our Registrar-General’s office were attached to the Zimbabwe RG’s Office to learn their new systems.”
Sources said the Malawian personnel who were in Zimbabwe recently interacted and exchanged notes with Mudede’s office and Nikuv officials on how to manage voters’ registration and the voters’ roll.
Malawian Foreign Affairs minister Ephraim Mganda Chiume told the Independent in an interview this week his country was engaged in an “exchange programme” with Zimbabwe’s Home Affairs ministry, including Mudede’s office.
“I know there are people from Malawi’s Home Affairs department who have been attached to their Zimbabwe counterparts and this has been an ongoing programme,” Chiume said.
A senior official in Mudede’s office yesterday said: “Different teams of Malawians have been coming to Zimbabwe and have been placed in different sections of Home Affairs, including Immigration, Monuments and the RG’s Office.”
Malawi is preparing to hold general elections next year amid an opposition outcry over the voter registration process.
Three Scottish police officers, including one former officer who served for 17 years in Northern Ireland, were last Saturday expected to travel to Malawi to share their expertise on tackling public disorder as part of a British government-backed programme.
The officers from Police Scotland were set to head part of the Malawi Policing Improvement Programme, backed by the UK Department for International Development, to enable the police in Malawi to better address public order issues after riots in 2011 saw 20 people shot dead. The training comes in advance of Malawi’s general elections in May 2014.
Like Zimbabwe, Malawi also has a messy voters’ roll which opposition parties say is always tampered with by incumbents during elections to ensure rigging.
The late Malawian president Bingu wa Mutharika, who was succeeded by Banda last year, won the 2004 elections when he stood on a United Democratic Front (UDF) ticket but the party later revealed that he had won through a stolen vote. UDF was formed by ex-president Bakili Muluzi in 1992 after the fall of dictator Hastings Kamuzu Banda.
Muluzi and UDF won elections in 1994 and ruled until 2004. Wa Mutharika then came in on a UDF ticket but after succeeding Muluzi he clashed with the party and his predecessor who had effectively remained as party leader. In 2005 wa Mutharika left to form the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which won the elections in 2009, leading to mass defections from UDF.
Banda, who was vice-president between 2009 and last year before she succeeded wa Mutharika in April, will be seeking proper election next year under the ticket of her own party, People’s Party (PP), which she created in 2011 after expulsion from the ruling DPP after she refused to endorse wa Mutharika’s young brother, Peter, as party successor to his brother as well as candidate in next year’s elections.
Sources said Banda’s nascent PP was still building structures across the country amid fears it might find it difficult to win next year’s elections, hence consultations with Zimbabwe on polls.
Banda visited Mugabe in April ahead of her taking over as Sadc chairperson after Zimbabwe’s recent elections. She was feted as royalty and she threw her weight behind Mugabe and his policies.
At the recent Sadc summit in Lilongwe, Banda played a crucial role in ensuring the regional bloc endorsed Zimbabwe’s disputed elections. She reportedly facilitated the secret meeting between Mugabe and Botswana President Ian Khama, who had raised concerns over allegations of rigging during Zimbabwe’s elections and demanded an audit of the results.
As incoming Sadc chairperson, Banda campaigned for Mugabe to be her deputy, a move largely seen as part of an elections deal between them and an attempt to secure him legitimacy after his controversial victory.
Sources say Banda’s government wants Nikuv, which launched its activities on the African continent in 1994 in Nigeria and has since expanded its operations to Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Lesotho, Botswana and Angola, to help out.
“Voter registration in Malawi is now being done for the second time after the first attempt was marred by irregularities with people from some regions being deliberately left out,” a senior UDF official told the Zimbabwe Independent on the sidelines of the just-ended Sadc summit in Lilongwe. “There is an obvious case of exclusion being implemented by Banda’s government to ensure that only her supporters are registered while regions in which she is unpopular are being marginalised.”
The official also claimed Banda’s relationship with Mugabe was motivated by elections and ensuring she remains in office. “We have lost confidence in Banda and we hope our candidate (Atupele Muluzi, son of former president Bakili Muluzi) will not lose due to fraud as Mugabe has a reputation of rigging elections,” the official said.
Mudede’s office paid Nikuv over US$10 million to deal with the voters’ rolls and election results.