THE Electoral Commission of Zambia outsourced the printing of ballot papers for this year’s elections because the Government Printing Department (GP) required about K44 billion to be equipped for the job.
This is against the K1 billion which is in the budget.
ECZ director Priscilla Isaac said in a statement yesterday that K43,897,966,174 is needed to fully equip the department to carry out the job.
She said the commission was left with no alternative but to outsource the printing of the ballot papers.
Ms Isaac said the tender was advertised in daily newspapers for a period of four weeks and it closed on April 29, 2011, but the Government Printing Department did not apply despite being free to do so.
“When the commission started preparations for the conduct of 2011 tripartite elections, it proceeded on the premise that ballot papers for the elections would be printed locally by the Government Printer. To this effect, the commission engaged the government through the Minister of Works and Supply (Gabriel Namulambe) to assess the capacity of Government Printers to print ballot papers for the 2011 tripartite elections,” she said.
She said only K1 billion was budgeted for the rehabilitation of Government Printers.
And the ECZ says the demand by Patriotic Front (PF) that ballot papers for the 2011 tripartite elections be printed in Zambia is unrealistic as there is no company in the country which can undertake a job of that magnitude.
“It is unfair for the PF to say the printing of ballot papers has been arranged between Government and ECZ when stakeholders have been kept abreast with everything that has been happening,” ECZ spokesperson Cris Akufuna said.
He said the South African company, Universal Print Group of Durban, which has been contracted to print ballot papers, was awarded the tender in a transparent manner.
PF secretary general Wynter Kabimba said during a press briefing yesterday that the opposition party would rather have the ballot papers printed in Zambia under security arrangements agreed by all stakeholders.
Mr Akufuna also said allegations by Mr Kabimba that the ECZ and President Banda held a meeting at which they agreed on the date of the elections are unfounded.
[Zambia Daily Mail]