I propose to take Questions Nos. 938, 940 and 983 together.
Following an open tender competition which fully complied with EU's public procurement procedures, my Department in June 2001, appointed the consortium, Nedap BV, Bureau Groenendaal BV and Powervote, to provide the voting machines and supporting software for the holding of elections in this country. The consortium has extensive experience in providing equipment for elections in two other EU member states and in the development and maintenance of election software. The equipment and software for the voting machines has been tested by two international institutes for compliance with internationally accepted standards.
As regards the conduct of elections in this country, returning officers appointed under the various electoral legislative codes are responsible for conducting elections. Advice and support, as required, will be made available by my Department to ensure a smooth transition to the new system. However, at all times, the returning officer is the person statutorily responsible for conducting the election. Detailed security protocols and procedures will be in place to ensure that access to the voting machines and stand-alone dedicated election computers is restricted and controlled by the returning officer responsible for the election or to authorised staff under the supervision of the returning officer.
Candidates and their agents can, of course, monitor the various stages of the election.