A shadowy Israeli security company, Nikuv International Projects Ltd, which was accused of manipulating the 2013 general elections in favour of the former President Robert Mugabe and awarded a tender by the Zimbabwe government to produce new passports, now faces boot amid reports that it is holding President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration at ransom.
In a radio interview with Capitalk FM on Friday Mnangagwa bemoaned how Nikuv is reneging on the contract.
“We have a company that introduced new technology in the production of passports. However this company has decided to hold the department at ransom by demanding certain payments. They said they will not print any more passports, because of legacy debts,” said Mnangagwa.
“We chipped in and paid the money. However the money was used to pay for consumables. And the company still demanded payments for consumables. However we realised that FIDELITY PRINTERS has the capacity to print passports.”
Nikuv, which deals with population registration, births and deaths, marriage and divorce issues, ID cards, passports, immigration and citizenship, agriculture, security matters and elections, landed a new contract after the July 31 2013 general elections.
This is not the first time Nikuv has been working on Zimbabwe’s identity documents. It produced the current e-passports, also known as biometric passports, which contain an electronic chip encoded with surname, given name, date and place of birth and gender information. It also includes a digital picture of the bearer’s face.
Nikuv got a new contract to continue doing the job. This followed its controversial role in the run-up to the 2013 elections where it was paid at least US$10 million by the then Registrar-General (RG) Tobaiwa Mudede’s office in a blitz of mysterious deposits between February and the day before the July 31 2013 polls.