The National Federation Party (NFP) is calling for an immediate independent audit by the Office of the Auditor-General into the tender process and award of the Election Management System (EMS) to NADRA Technologies Limited.
The NFP also wants an immediate independent audit of the EMS by a competent and independent Information Technology (IT) expert to ensure that the proposed EMS does not disenfranchise the voters of Fiji. The NFP Leader, Hon Professor Biman Prasad said the findings of the two audits should to be made public, as well as made available to the media and all registered political parties, as soon as possible.
Professor Biman Prasad, said the Electoral Commission, which is
constitutionally responsible for the registration of voters and the conduct of free and fair elections under Section 75 (1), must for the sake of the integrity and the perception of the legitimacy of the 2018 General Election, open up the process to greater scrutiny to ensure its independence and impartiality so that it is able to withstand even a rigorous Court challenge mounted against the
processes for polling.
“This would conform with the principles of good electoral practice which includes amongst others Transparency, where there is openness and truthfulness, and timely information and access to it, is provided to stakeholders”, he said Professor Prasad pointed out that several reports published by prominent Pakistani media have raised several allegations against NADRA. He quoted
the Express Tribune of 25th August 2015 in which it was reported that Biometrics machines using fingerprints available in the NADRA database failed to verify 54% of votes in a pilot project run by the Election Commission of Pakistan.
He pointed out that all registered voters in Fiji were fingerprinted when they registered and therefore it is important that the identity of voters is confidential, and that the EMS process does not intend to use biometrics.
Professor Prasad also pointed out that when the Supervisor of Elections signed the agreement with New Zealand High Commission on 17th June 2016, he announced that the EMS would be developed through a $1.3 million fund provided by NZ Government, and the project would be completed and piloted
in December 2017.
“This is inconsistent with what is on NADRA website about the EMS. It describes Fiji’s existing system as one of distributed and disparate Election Management modules and claims to develop a Centralised Election Management System (CEMS) for better and faster decision making by February 2017”.
“Furthermore, a staff member formerly employed by NADRA between May 2015 and June 20171, currently pursuing his MBA in London, posted on his LinkedIn profile as having been involved in NADRA’s contract award for a price of $9 million. We wonder whether it is FJD$9m or USD$9m”.
“In this light, it is absolutely critical that political parties and voters are assured of the robust integrity of the tender process as well as of the integrity and quality of the new election technology or the Election Management System.”
“A rigorous audit of the system by independent experts with extensive knowledge of election technology, is critical, with associated documentation made available to political parties and to voters.” Professor Prasad said while the Supervisor of Elections has attempted to clarify the tender process, he has not fully disclosed the tender process and the financial value of the contract, all of which would only be satisfied by an independent audit of the procurement process.
“We need to be assured that the full tender and procurement process and the Government’s guidelines in place for the procurement of goods and services, were followed in the awarding of such important, and sensitive systems on elections which practically determine the next Government.”
“Were the procurement guidelines followed, and furthermore, are we assured that when the EMS kicks off, there will be independent audits of it?” Professor Prasad also called on the Electoral Commission to take charge of the issue and put to rest any public speculation on the matter.
Professor Biman Prasad