President Michael Sata’s recent trip to London included a meeting to allegedly pay bribes to a company contracted to print ballot papers as part of the plan to rig the 2016 presidential elections, State House sources have disclosed.
Sata, who initially announced he was heading to unknown destination for a working holiday only for online media to expose his stopover in India for medical review before his officials announced he was in London where he had connected, is working on a solid 2016 rigging mechanism.
According to the sources, the by-elections in Katuba (set for February 25) and the Mansa Central which the PF won were being used as testing grounds. The Head of State, according to insiders, wanted to witness first hand the pledge Smith and Ouzman Printers of UK had rendered would succeed.
“Money has already exchanged hands for extra ballots to be printed for by elections and presidential elections in 2016. The extra ballot papers are printed and transported to the nearest country where the Zambian government parks them into the presidential plane.”
The sources says it is easy to transport the ballot papers using the presidential plane because everything that is consigned does not go through any scrutiny at the port of entry but are delivered directly to the Head of State.
Ironically, Smith and Ouzman are not new to bribery allegations as they are currently facing charges before the UK courts.
Smith & Ouzman Limited, two of its directors, an employee and one agent have been charged by the Serious Fraud Office with offences of corruptly agreeing to make payments totaling nearly half a million pounds, contrary to section 1 Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. It is alleged that these payments were used to influence the award of business contracts to the company.
The alleged offences are said to have taken place between November 2006 and December 2010 and relate to transactions in Mauritania, Ghana, Somaliland and Kenya.
A preliminary hearing took place on 6 November 2013 at Southwark Crown Court. The defendants were released on unconditional bail. A plea and case management hearing was held 27 January 2014, with the trial listed for 10 November 2014 at Southwark Crown Court.
The sources said President Sata’s trip was to check on the samples for pre-marked ballot papers as well as make some payments for their agreement which is done without the knowledge of the Electoral Commission of Zambia.
“These ballot papers are pre-marked and they are meant for specific destinations especially where the ruling party has strong presence and can use confusion or violence to sneak them in,” the source added.
The sources have disclosed that President Sata is aware that his party will have problems winning an outright majority in 2016 and this is one of the reasons he is avoiding to enact the new constitution which mandates a wining candidate to garner 50+1% of the total vote to be declared winner.
“The assumption is that PF will remain strong in Muchinga, Luapula, Northern, and some parts of Central and Copperbelt provinces for the 2016 elections. In areas where the opposition can’t reach, it will also be easy to get pre-marked ballot boxes and you know the challenge of these rural areas. The boss knows that some of these opposition parties don’t even have enough funds for monitors country,” the sources said.
“That is why the President needed to go and meet some of these people during the trip in London and the plan is solid.”
President Sata, even with failing health, is determined to remain in State House and serve his two teams. The sources said he will also do everything possible to thrive using a divided opposition.
“As you know, The Post is very key in this campaign. They may print two editions, one in the evening and another on morning, to announce the results during 2016. These results will be official and those published by ECZ will be a formality to declare the boss the winner. For now, the president is making sure he uses colleagues at The Post to divide the opposition by pitting them against each other,” the source explained.
According to the sources, the pre-marked ballot papers will be transported using the Zambia Intelligence Service officers aboard Zambia Air Force planes with the Katuba by-elections as one of the continued testing grounds.
“Mansa was very successful. Let’s see how Katuba will go,” the source added.
The by-election in Katuba follows the death of MMD Member of Parliament and Health Deputy Minister Patrick Chikusu.
For the public gallery, there were 13 boxes for the Katuba by-election which were inspected, four for the Wusakile local Government by-election, and one for a local Government by-election in Chililabombwe.
Others were one box for Katwe Ward by-election in Mpulungu, one box for Namando Ward in Luampa, one ballot box for Ipumbu Ward in Mpongwe and another one for Lumbo Ward for Mongu Central.
There was also one box for posters for Katuba Constituency and another for local Government by-elections.
Seven candidates from the PF, MMD, UNIP, UPND, National Restoration Party (NAREP), National Revolution Party (NRP) and ABZ are jostling for the vacant Katuba parliamentary seat. These are Moses Chilando for PF, Cecil Holmes for MMD, Friday Malawo representing UNIP, Jonas Shakafuswa on the UPND ticket, and Joseph Mushalika for NAREP. Others are Shakespeare Mwakamui representing NRP, and the ABZ candidate Patricia Mwashingwele.