Rainbow Party leader Wynter Kabimba says stakeholders should demand government’s clear explanation on its capacity to securely print ballot papers locally.

Recently, Works and Supply Minister Mutotwe Kafwaya said he would have to do all he could to ensure that ballot papers are printed locally in 2021 because failing to do so would anger the President.

But in an interview, Kabimba wondered if government had all the machinery, manpower and security features required for the job.

“The government over the last few years has been making pronouncements about the desire to print ballot papers locally in order to save the cost of printing ballot papers outside the country. But what the government has not done is to explain the capacity of government printers to undertake that job. What stakeholders have demanded is an explanation from government from A, the type of equipment that they have purchased for government printing department. B, the security measures that are going to be put in place to make sure that the government printing department premises is secure from any outside interference that may risk the ballot paper printing programme. C, the security features of the ballot papers to ensure that the ballot papers are not printed elsewhere simultaneously as government printing department is printing the ballot papers,” Kabimba said.

Kabimba expressed concern that most stakeholders had paid a blind eye to the seriousness of printing of ballot papers locally

“What has surprised us as Rainbow Party the majority of stakeholders do not think that this issue is a priority issue. We are fighting over other issues. We are fighting to see the amendment to the Public Order Act but nobody seems to be interested in national dialogue where an important issue like this can be resolved. The other thing which is related to the printing of ballot papers is the role of opposition political parties, the role of stakeholders, what will be the role of stakeholders during the printing of these ballot papers? Who is going to be in charge? Who is going to secure these ballot papers? In whose custody are they going to be and what measures are in place that where they shall be secured, the security of that place can win the confidence of all the stakeholders? So this is an issue that we must start discussing now before we get to elections in 2021 because if we reach 2021 and this issue is not resolved, then it may compromise the election results of the 2021 Presidential and general election,” he said.

“The view we have taken as Rainbow party is that the national dialogue should take place as a matter of priority and all the stakeholders must take interest in this national dialogue so that issues such as the Public Order Act, the constitution, the electoral Act can be discussed including this important issue of printing ballot papers locally because all these issues are related because of the kind of disputes that we have seen after each election for a long time now. So it’s important that stakeholders pay attention to this matter and start demanding from government a clear explanation and road map towards the printing of ballot papers locally. All that we have heard in the past are isolated statements from the President, the former Minister of Works and Supply Felix Mutati and now the current minister of Works and Supply Mutotwe Kafwaya. But we want a road map not statements. We want a road map that can answer to these matters of concern that we as Rainbow party are raising.”

Asked if he had confidence that the government printing department was well equipped to print ballot papers at such a large scale, Kabimba said that would be a question for government to answer.

“No, you can’t even ask that question on whether or not the government printing department has capacity to print the ballot paper, unless and until government gives us that road map, that’s when we can answer that question. So the government must tell us that one, they have got the budget; two, they have got the necessary equipment for the printing of the ballot papers. They should also tell us that they’ve got possession of manpower, that’s when we can answer those questions. All those are issues, capacity, equipment, budget…that’s what we are supposed to be discussing with government,” said Kabimba.