The German Company, Giesecke und Devrient G&D that won the contract valued at FCFA 7.8 billion to do biometric recompilation of the electoral register in Cameroon last year and the contract was signed on April 18, 2011 is reported on heat back home. German media organs like the Stuttgarter Zeitung and some civil society organizations like the German Transparency International have called on the German Parliament to investigate into the deal between Elections Cameroon and G & D. As such, doubts have been emitted as the ongoing recompilation process kick-started at a snail pace. Having issued a decision giving the calendar and all the necessary information that recompilation will kick-start nationwide soon, ELECAM now faces the unknown for lack of kits.
According to information gathered some companies that tendered for the contract to do biometric recompilation of the electoral register and were all rejected have decided to unveil the maneuvers that led to the selection of G&D. The German media and Transparency International have all criticized the choice of the German firm arguing that something transpired during selection.
It was however strange that a company that did not even merit a place on the shortlist ended up winning the contract to supplier biometric equipments, they argued. German newspapers and NGOs are reported to be lobbying on the German Parliament to block the deal. The Germans lobbyists are arguing that the company that won the contract was never listed and have also casted doubts on the quality of material to be produced. In Germany, it is alleged G&D is not specialized in the production of materials for election rather the company specializes in production bank notes and bank cards. More so the turn-around to select a company that was not shortlisted we gathered was due to pressure from the Presidency of the Republic after the arrival on April 15, 2012 of the German Parliamentary Secretary of State in the Federal Ministry of Economy and Technology, Mr Ernst Burgdacher, who was accompanied by Mr Kung, the Vice President of G&D. Whether Mr. Ernst Burgdacher who met President Biya played a fast one to negotiate for the contract remains another issue that the German lobbyists have taken steps to reveal to Parliament.
The contract which involves the supply of materials for biometric voter registration and the training of Cameroonians who would utilise the materials has been put to question in Germany and is becoming the center of controversy in Germany. Some German media and NGOs have launched an action to seek Parliament support to cancel the deal stating that the selection was not based on merit because corrupt practices entered into play. It should however be recalled that a group of local engineers and companies from France, South Africa and Canada tendered for the contract. But surprisingly, the contract was awarded to a Munich company Giesecke & Devrient (G & D), which is widely known as a manufacturer of banknotes. It is even alleged that the company selected was much more expensive than other bidders.
They are questioning how G&D that did not even originally tender for the contract emerged winner. With all the cacophony, dark clouds now loom over ELECAM as to whether all the kits will be supplied in time for recompilation to kick-start nationwide. The process of registration biometric voter in Cameroon is currently experiencing serious difficulties, the German operator Giesecke & Devrient (G & D) not arriving yet to deliver the kits necessary for the smooth running of operations.
Three weeks after the official launching in Yaounde the process has been very slow mainly because of insufficient material, we were hinted. Sources close to Elections Cameroon (ELECAM) also confirmed allegations that “G & D is a considerable delaying in the delivery schedule of the material that was supposed to be having been received in August.”
In addition, the 1200 stock first kits delivered in September developed abnormalities in use to the point that in some areas could not make entries on the electoral lists because of the problems. At this rate, the number of seven (7) to eight (8) million expected by ELECAM during the next six months may likely be shattered. The most serious threat is the expected legislative and municipal elections may not take place especially as than the average of 50,000 could be registered per day across the country, we learn from sources.
Nonetheless at the time of signing the contract, Hans W. Kunz, vice president of Giesecke & Devrient Group, stated that “the provisions were already made in Germany,” and that they are capable of doing the job as it is defined in terms of the contract. Insinuating that “we have a lot of experience in this field”, because “we have been in many countries for work” he cited the biometric identity card in Brazil as one of their major achievements amongst others. Yet, allegations are rife that less than 400 kits have been supplied to Elecam and with the controversy surrounding the delay in the deliverance of kits and the dissenting voices in Germany, ELECAM may not be able to carryout the exercise as expected. Further more, some Cameroonians are of the opinion that it could have been another scam like was the case with the acquisition of the Presidential plane.When News Breaks Out, We Break In. Minute by Minute Report on Cameroon and Africa