Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) executive director Boniface Cheembe says the ECZ should fairly implement its position that it will not fund observers for the printing of ballot papers in Dubai.
And Cheembe says the Government Printers should inform the nation on whether or not they have managed to develop and strengthen technical and security capacity to print ballot papers for future general elections.
In a statement, Cheembe stated that the ECZ must ensure that the ruling PF and opposition political parties do not use government money to send their representatives to monitor or observe the printing of ballot papers in Dubai.
“To political stakeholders, it would be prudent to take proactive measures of ensuring that some planning or preparations of putting in place measures to support their own observers/monitors for this important process are in place should the ECZ not be convinced by stakeholders to change their position. To the ECZ, should this position be maintained, it is paramount that it is implemented fairly across the board irrespective of political affiliation in the interest of peace and unity. In other words, the ECZ must ensure that both the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and opposition political parties do not use government money to send their representatives to monitor/observe the printing of ballot papers but instead, all of them use their own resources should they decide to send representatives. This would be the fair and just thing to do should the decision by the ECZ not to support political parties be upheld,” Cheembe stated.
He added that stakeholders are wondering whether Government Printers have managed to raise capacity to print ballot papers.
“SACCORD has taken note of the proactive step by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) in informing the nation on the status of printing ballot papers in Dubai. Prior to this announcement, the nation had been anticipating that ballot papers would be printed domestically, and it was expected that Government Printers would inform the nation on the state of preparedness for the huge task ahead, but this update has either been thin or absent. This has left many stakeholders to wonder whether government printers have managed to develop and strengthen their technical and security capacity to print ballot papers for an election as important as the 2021 general elections,” stated Cheembe.
“The ever suspicious and competitive political environment that Zambia has requires a tested and proven credible track record of ballot paper printing that will build stakeholder confidence. Zambia has printed ballot papers in various cities and countries abroad, including Dubai, largely on account of the track record of the companies. All the ballot papers for the by-elections that the country has held since 2016 have been printed abroad, largely in Dubai. Therefore, if the Government Printers does not inform the nation on its readiness to print ballot papers domestically, considering that this has not been done for by-elections, the country may need to settle for printing ballot papers for the 2021 elections abroad in a country that the ECZ and stakeholders may settle for, including Dubai.”