The printing of presidential ballot papers for the August 12 elections has commenced in Dubai, United Arabs, whose process is expected to be completed over a period of one week.
This follows the verification and endorsement of print proofs by the ruling Patriotic Front and United National Party for National Development (UPND).
PF National Vice Chairperson Davis Chama signed on behalf of the ruling party and Ms Linda Nkonde, representing UPND signed on behalf of the opposition party.
The presidential ballot paper, which was first approved by the 16 political parties in Lusaka and then the two parties present in Dubai verify , will have 16 candidates on the ballot sheet making it the longest list of those aspiring to run for the presidency compared to the 2016 general elections which had nine candidates.
Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) Vice Chairperson Emily Sikazwe who commissioned the printing by way of signing off the ballot print sheet for the presidential candidates said the commission had received the approvals from all political parties in Zambia on the presidential ballot.
Dr Sikazwe said with the joining of the UPND representative together with PF, led the approval of the presidential ballot paper which was also endorsed by the commission.
And ECZ Commissioner, Retired General Vincet Mukanda said the commission had since made great strides in the production process of the ballots and that printing of presidential ballot papers according to the company will approximately take a week.
Meanwhile ECZ Director Electoral Operations Royd Kasonde disclosed that the commission in Dubai had finished the approval of mayoral, council chairpersons and parliamentary ballot papers and printing was underway.
Mr Katongo said out of the 156 parliamentary seats, only 40 constituencies were remaining whilst the printing of local government ballot papers would soon be completed as approval were almost all concluding.
And stakeholders in Dubai monitoring the printing of ballot papers have described the process as being transparent and have commended the Electoral Commission of Zambia in the manner they have handled the exercise.
PF Deputy National Chairperson Davis Chama said the party is pleased with the whole printing process as its expectations have been met.
Mr Chama speaking to journalists in an interview said it was important that suspicions surrounding the printing of the ballot papers are cleared and all stakeholders witness whatever is happening at the printing plant.
Mr Chama who is former defense minister stated the process must give confidence to the Zambian people so that the elections to held on August 12 are credible, and that the outcome should be accepted by participating candidates as opposed to raising suspicions.
“The expectation we have as PF is that the process is made transparent as possible and we remove all those suspicions that there is always something ECZ does. It is important that Zambians have confidence in the process and are given an election which is transparent.
“Losers must accept that they have lost and not start pointing fingers and accusing the commission that there have been some mischievous activities during the process,” Mr Chama said.
The PF official indicated that the party was happy with the way ECZ has handled the process as it has been transparent as all stakeholders have witnessed the process of what happens in Dubai at Al Ghurair plant as the ballot papers are being printed.
“We are so far very happy with what has been happening and observed. The commission has been very transparent and ensured that all stakeholders are made to go through all the processes that take place here,” Mr Chama said.
Mr Chama expressed confidence that this year’s election would be as transparent and credible as possible.
The party official also expressed happiness that the opposition UPND party had sent a representative to observe the printing process of ballot papers so that nobody accuses the commission of wrongdoing.
Mr Chama observed that it was unfortunate of what had happened as all political party stakeholders were informed in good time to prepare for the trip by the commission, and would have not wanted a situation where the ruling party is accused of conniving with the ECZ to disadvantage others since they arrived earlier.
UPND Representative Linda Nkonde pointed out that as a party the key thing was for transparency and access to the printing areas of the company.
Ms Nkonde who was briefed by the commission and undertook a tour of the plant said the party wants to be guaranteed of a free and fair elections on August 12th 2021 as the process was been undertaken.
The official also called for need to come together to collaborate and work with the Electoral Commission of Zambia for the good of the process and country.
Meanwhile the Non-Government Organization Coordinating Council (NGOCC) says it was happy that the civil society body was made to be part of the delegation observing and monitoring the printing of ballot papers in Dubai.
Executive Director Engwase Mwale said the organization which is representing civil society groups to monitor the process is pleased that engagement of stakeholders by ECZ shows how the commission values partnerships with CSOs and their input in the electoral process.
‘’the inclusion of civil society organization helps to harness the elections process and ensuring that we are part of this important democratic activity as Zambians, we commend the Electoral Commission of Zambia for including NGOCC as part of the Zambian delegation monitoring the printing of ballot papers for the August 12, 2021 elections,” Ms Mwale said.
Ms Mwale observed that the process was in line with expectations of the organization as all the 16 political parties were observing from both Zambia and those who managed to travel to Dubai.
“the process so far is inclusive and participatory as we understand that all the 16 participating political parties with candidates at presidential and other levels are involved in verifying and proofreading all ballot papers in Lusaka, at the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) premises, before printing commences at the plant here in Dubai,” she observed.
Ms Mwale said while Al Ghurair Printing Company contracted to print the papers was adequately resourced to undertake the assignment however called on the need to invest in the printing of ballot papers locally in Zambia.
“With the necessary investment and orientation of local expertise with regards to ballot printing, opportunities for Zambia remain great, it is NGOCC’s view that all political actors need to invest in the whole elections cycle by planning to observe all key electoral processes including the ballot printing. This will not only enhance the credibility of the elections but also ensure the acceptability of the election results,” she stated.