I am publishing four articles on the role of Nikuv, for anyone who has not seen them.

Robert Mugabe’s Made-in-Israel ‘Landslide’

By Dave Goldiner

Source: http://blogs.forward.com/forward-thinking/181670/robert-mugabes-made-in-israel-landslide/

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Robert Mugabe

You could probably forgive the proprietors of Nikuv for feeling slightly giddy after the final results of Zimbabwe’s election were announced this weekend.

The Israeli company’s client, President Robert G. Mugabe, romped home with 60% of the vote and his ruling ZANU-PF party grabbed more than two-thirds of the seats in the troubled southern African nation’s parliament.

Mugabe, 89, turned back a challenge from longtime rival Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change party, beating the former trade union leader by about 1 million votes, according to official results.

Even better, there was none of the violence or blatant intimidation that marked past elections, like the 2008 vote that Tsvanigirai won and also led to widespread chaos and international condemnation.

So how did Nikuv, a shadowy company headquartered the Israeli town of Herzliya, play such a central role in the vote in a farflung African land?

Why did Nikuv CEO Emmanuel Antebi, and top aide Ammon Peer reportedly jet into the capital of Harare for 90 minutes of valuable face time with Mugabe on Tuesday, just hours before the polls opened?

The opposition and independent watchdogs say it’s because Nikuv was a vital cog in Mugabe’s strategy to massively rig the watershed election and maintain his grip on power.

The strategy apparently succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, with Mugabe and ZANU-PF running up never before seen vote totals in some areas. In some urban constituencies, ZANU-PF increased its vote 10 and 20-fold. In rural areas, some districts recorded more votes than the adult population.

So how did Nikuv do it?

The company has been working for several years to with the country’s notoriously partisan Registrar General, Tobaiwa Mudede. His office controls the production of all identity documents, like national ID cards, passports, licences, and — you guessed it — voter registration forms.

ZANU-PF has long used the voter’s roll as a political tool to disenfranchise voters in the opposition’s urban strongholds and inflate its own support in the country’s vast rural hinterlands.

After being stung by defeat five years ago, ZANU-PF apparently went back to the drawing board to make sure the people never got the chance to vote it out of office for good.

While the MDC was distracted by the task of trying to stabilize the country’s economy (and enjoying the newfound perks of office, cynics say), ZANU-PF was using the tools Nikuv provided to lay the groundwork for this week’s ‘landslide.’

A voter registration campaign was a barely disguised ZANU-PF get out the vote rally. In rural areas, thousands were signed up overnight while urban voters were forced to wait for hours as partisan workers took up to 30 minutes to process each application.

By the time elections were called, 99.6% of rural voters were registered, while just 67% were signed up in the cities and towns, according to the independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network. So the giant and enthusiastic rallies that Tsvangirai drew (including a final one in Harare that was probably the biggest political gathering since Mugabe’s triumphal first victory rally in 1980) were probably mostly attended by those who had no way influencing the outcome.

On election day, nearly 1 million urban voters were turned away from the polls.

Nikuv gave ZANU-PF plenty of cards to play with. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission printed 35% more ballots than there are registered voters, compared to the global standard of 5%. That number raised hackles even among normally pliant African Union election observers.

Some insiders claim thousands of ballots with neatly pre-filled out ZANU-PF votes were simply added to the totals in certain wards. Extra polling stations were set up that were only known to ruling party supporters.

As the scale of the debacle emerges, Tsvangirai is crying foul and the MDC is vowing to continue its uphill battle for democracy in a country that has known only one ruler in the 33 years since independence. (It might have considered fighting for common sense reforms like eliminating the voters roll and making voting based on a national ID card while it had a share of power, but hindsight is always 20/20).

Secretary of State John Kerry has said the election results do not reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people. That may mean Zimbabwe has little chance of unlocking the Western support that it desperately needs to rebuild its economy, still teetering from decades of mismanagement and a disastrous plan to drive white commercial famers off their land.

But Mugabe will now likely serve as president till he’s 95 — or dies in office.

And that’s why Nikuv’s bosses will likely be flying back to Tel Aviv with a lucrative new contract in their pocket — signed, sealed and delivered.

Contact Dave Goldiner at goldiner@forward.com or @davidgoldiner

MDC raises concerns over Nikuv voters’ roll ‘manipulation’

19 Jul 2013 00:00 Inyasha Chivara & Wongai Zhangazha

Source: http://mg.co.za/article/2013-07-19-00-dabengwa-defends-nikuv
The MDC is calling for the Israeli company’s contract to be ended after allegations of voters’ roll tampering.
Fraud: If the poll has been doctored, it won’t matter who anyone votes for. (Desmond Kwande/AFP)

The involvement of Israeli company Nikuv in the election process is again under scrutiny after the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) wrote to the registrar general’s office demanding that its contract be terminated.

The MDC said Nikuv had been involved in tampering with the voters’ roll.

It has also emerged that former home affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa, who is now a member of the opposition, knew the tender was awarded to Nikuv.

The circumstances under which the Nikuv tender was awarded is now being questioned.

Dabengwa left Zanu-PF in 2008. He later revived the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu), which he now heads. Zapu is now in a coalition for the election with Welshman Ncube’s MDC.

Asked for clarity on the Nikuv tender, Dabengwa confirmed that Nikuv was hired in 2000 when he was a minister “to specifically upgrade the computers for the purposes of computerising the central registry, birth certificates, passports and national identity documents”.

Voting cards
“The only time they [Nikuv] attempted to get involved in electoral processes was when they recommended in 2000 that they would want to introduce voting cards for people, which would last for four elections,” Dabengwa said.

However, the government had not adopted the proposal. “If ever they were then later used for other electoral processes by the state, that is not to my knowledge.”

The MDC letter was written by the party’s secretary general, Tendai Biti, to the registrar general’s office, and hand-delivered last weekend. It was also copied to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and home affairs ministers.

The party said it was “concerned about electoral fraud [by Nikuv] through manipulation of the ­voters’ roll, and the issuing of multiple national identity cards to individuals that would then allow them to vote twice”.

Nikuv, which has previously been investigated before by the Mail & Guardian over allegations of its involvement in election rigging in the region, is registered as Nikuv International Projects, and has been managing Zimbabwe’s voters’ roll since 1994, when it was controversially awarded a tender to upgrade the computer systems at the registrar general’s office.

There have also been allegations that Nikuv, which is headquartered in Herzliya, Tel Aviv, is a front for Israeli intelligence.

But Nikuv has denied the allegations, saying it is being pulled into the “dirty mud that comes with the holding of elections”.

‘Never been involved in politics’
Nikuv’s Ron Asher this week spoke out for the first time and said that the company has never been involved in politics.

Asher said: “It is election time and people are trying to throw mud from this side and the other side. We are legitimate and professional. We have never been involved in any politics, not now or ever.”

He said that Nikuv works with public sectors across the world, but declined to say which government bodies it works with in Zimbabwe.

“Approach our customers and look on our website,” he said.

The website says that the company was established in 1994 by a group of professionals with an accumulated experience of 45 years in the field of population registration and electoral systems in Israel.

It says it specialises in population registration, birth and death registration; marriage/divorce registration; identity documents; immigration and citizenship; passports; and electoral systems.

Nikuv’s electoral sevices
The electoral service it provides includes voter registration, ward demarcation, the creation and printing of the voters’ roll by polling ­stations, a central information ­centre and the management of election results.

A senior Cabinet minister who asked to remain anonymous told the M&G last month that Nikuv has been operating in Zimbabwe for more than 10 years and is mainly based at the National Registration Bureau, located in Borrowdale, Harare, next to the army headquarters.

The bureau is the national civic registration centre and falls under the registrar general’s office.

The source claimed that Asher works directly with registrar general Tobaiwa Mudede.

However, in a July 15 letter addressed to Biti, which the M&G has seen, Mudede denied that Nikuv is in a position to manipulate the voters’ roll.

“Nikuv has no control over our voters’ roll. The mandate to register voters and compile the voters’ roll rests with the registrar of voters.”

MDC’s demands
In the letter to the registrar, the MDC also wanted to know whether Nikuv was hired after an open tender process.

The MDC demanded that the registrar general also inform it if Nikuv has indeed been working on the voters’ roll, the tender numbers and details, and the extent of its work and what projects the company has completed.

A source within the prime minister’s office told the M&G that the party is now considering taking the matter to court before the elections to seek an order to bar Nikuv from the electoral processes.

Dr Ibbo Mandaza, a political analyst and head of policy research institute Sapes, said Nikuv’s operations in Zimbabwe are “difficult to know”.

“I did receive some information way back in 2000 that there was a Israeli company involved in electoral processes in the country, [but] it never occurred to me at that stage that it was Nikuv,” he said.

Mandaza said concerns about Nikuv’s operations were “understandable.”

RAU interdicted
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe High Court on Wednesday interdicted nongovernmental organisation Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) from launching and publishing its full analysis of the voters’ roll at a Harare hotel on Wednesday.

Judge Joseph Mafusire upheld an urgent application by Mudede that claimed that RAU is attempting to usurp the constitutional powers of the registrar general’s office and intends to cause “chaos and anarchy within our electoral system”.

In a preliminary report covered by the M&G two weeks ago, the RAU asserted that a million Zimbabweans who are dead or have left the country are still on the voters roll; that the roll lists 116 000 people older than 100; that there are 78 constituencies with more registered voters than adult residents; and that two million voters under the age of 30 are unregistered.

In a written response, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chair­person Rita Makarau said that the ZEC had raised certain issues about the RAU’s “assumptions”, but has not yet received a response.

Israeli company accused of tampering with Zimbabwean voters roll

As presidential elections loom, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai accuses Israeli company of tampering with Zimbabwe’s voters’ roll in favour of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party

By on 22 July, 2013 4:59 pm in News / no comments

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is accusing an Israeli company, Nikuv International Projects, of tampering with Zimbabwe’s voters’ roll ahead of 31 July 2013 elections. Opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), accused Nikuv of attempting to rig the elections on behalf of Robert Mugabe’s party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU PF).

Nikuv, which specialises in population registration and election systems is accused of providing technical support to the former ruling party in order to manipulate the voters’ roll.

MDC party leader Tsvangirai made allegations against Nikuv during a meeting with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in Harare led by Justice Rita Makarau, who is said to have promised to look into the accusations.

An MDC statement claimed: “Nikuv is working on the voters’ roll at the Defence House, the headquarters of the Zimbabwe Defence Force and the company is a front for the Israeli spy agency Mossad.” However, they offered no evidence to support this claim.

A representative of Nikuv’s, Ron Asher, said, “It is election time and people are trying to throw mud from this side and the other side. We are legitimate and professional. We have never been involved in any politics, not now or ever.” Asher said that Nikuv works with public sectors worldwide but failed to say which government bodies it was associated with in Zimbabwe.

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The Israel-based company have been managing Zimbabwe’s voters’ roll since 1994, after they were controversially granted a tender to upgrade the computer systems at the registrar general’s office.

Tsvangirai argues that the company is now working under the direction of Daniel Tonde Nhepera, the deputy head of the Zimbabwe’s internal security arm, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

The electronic voters’ roll has only been available to the public for less than a week yet there have been several complaints regarding irregularities. Some people checking their names on the new vote registration website http://www.myzimvote.com claim their names do not appear, despite having registered, whereas others claim their names appear in places they have never lived in before.

This is not the first time that Nikuv has come under scrutiny for their involvement in election rigging in the region, most notably in the recent Ghanian elections according to African Confidential editor Patrick Smith.

 

Wongai Zhangazha
Jul 19 2013

The local boss of an Israeli company accused of fixing the voters’ roll shrugs off the allegations


The Harare-based head of the shadowy Israeli company working on the Zimbabwean voters roll, Nikuv International Projects, has hotly denied that it is involved in rigging the July 31 poll in favour of Zanu-PF.

Nikuv’s Ron Asher said this week that the company had never been, nor would ever be, involved in politics and that it was “legitimate and professional”.

Last week Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) complained about Nikuv to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, claiming that the company was manipulating the voters’ roll to favour Zanu-PF.

There have also been allegations that Nikuv, whose headquarters is in Herzliya, Tel Aviv, is a front for Israeli intelligence.

Asher said: “It is election time and people are trying to throw mud from this side and the other side. We are legitimate and professional. We have never been involved in any politics, not now or ever.”

He said that Nikuv worked with public sectors around the world, although he would not say which government bodies it was working with in Zimbabwe.

The company’s website says it manages voter registration and election processes by “providing necessary tools and appropriate voters cards and additional equipment for undertaking a successful election process”.

Electoral services include voter registration, ward demarcation, the creation and printing of the voters’ roll by polling stations, a central information centre and the management of election results.

A decade of service
A senior Zimbabwe Cabinet minister who asked to remain anonymous told amaBhungane last month that Nikuv had been operating in Zimbabwe for more than 10 years and was mainly based at the National Registration Bureau in Borrowdale, Harare.

The bureau is the national civic registration centre and falls under the registrar general’s office.
The minister claimed that Asher was working directly with the registrar general, Tobaiwa Mudede.

However, in a July 15 letter addressed to the MDC-T secretary general, Tendai Biti, which amaBhungane has seen, Mudede denied that Nikuv was in a position to manipulate the voters’ roll.

He said: “Nikuv has no control over our voters’ roll. The mandate to register voters and compile the voter’s roll rests with the registrar of voters.”

Veteran politician Dumisa Dabengwa confirmed that Nikuv was hired in 2000 when he was home affairs minister “specifically to upgrade the computers for the purposes of computerising the central registry, birth certificates, passports and national identity documents.

“The only time they [Nikuv] attempted to get involved in electoral processes was when they 
recommended in 2000 that they would want to introduce voting cards for people that would last [for] four elections,” Dabengwa said.

However, the government had not adopted the proposal. “If ever they were then later used for other electoral processes by the state, that is not to my knowledge,” he said.

Dabengwa left Zanu-PF and now leads Zapu, which has joined an election coalition with Welshman Ncube’s MDC.

Interdict
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe High Court interdicted nongovernmental research organisation Research and Advocacy Unit from launching and publicising its full analysis of the voters’ roll at a Harare hotel on Wednesday.

Judge Joseph Mafusire upheld an urgent application by Mudede, which claimed that the organisation was attempting to usurp the constitutional powers of the registrar general’s office and intended to cause “chaos and anarchy within our electoral system”.

In a preliminary report, the organisation said that a million Zimbabweans who were dead or had left the country were still on the voters’ roll; that the roll listed 116 000 people over the age of 100; that there were 78 constituencies with more registered voters than adult residents; and that two million voters under the age of 30 were not registered.

In a written response, electoral commission chairperson Rita Makarau said it had raised certain issues about the research unit’s “assumptions” but had not received a response. — Additional reporting by M&G Harare Correspondent