The PF government has contracted a United Kingdom company to print ballot papers for the July by-elections despite promising Zambians during last year’s elections that all such work will be done in Zambia by Zambian owned companies.
Smith & Ouzman, based in East Sussex, United Kingdom has been engaged to print ballot papers for Chama-north, Muchinga and Livingstone parliamentary by-elections plus 11 local government elections scheduled for July 5, 2012.
Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) spokesperson Chris Akufuna has confirmed that the multi-billion contract has been awarded to the foreign printer.
On Sunday, October 9, 2011, President Michael Sata vowed that Zambia will print its own ballot papers for future elections.
Sata said that the November 24 Magoye and Nakonde parliamentary by-elections would be the last to be conducted on foreign-printed ballots.
He said Zambia cannot continue to print ballot papers in other countries after 47 years of independence.
“If it means spending all the coffers to bring in equipment, we will do it. We will print ballot papers here,” Mr Sata said. He said this when he attended the post-election thanksgiving prayer service organised by the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC), Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) and Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
Before the 2011 elections, the PF leaders including Sata lined up to condemn the MMD government for printing ballot paper in South Africa which is more than three times cheaper than printing in Sussex, United Kingdom as the contract involves delivering the ballots by air to Zambia.
The PF has also promised to put more money in the pocket of Zambians by empowering local companies with such contracts.