This has been a hot topic of the week with some section of the society having mixed feelings on where to have ballot papers printed from. The government has announced its intentions to have all election materials printed locally due to some opposition parties claiming the credibility of printing companies picked were in the past involved in some scams of rigging.
Having carefully reviewed the matter, I feel if the Zambian printing companies should be given an opportunity to bid and have the election materials done locally provided all security measures are put in place.
Others may argue that doing the exercise locally may entail those in the driving seat print same papers from elsewhere within too which may result in rigging however there isn’t much difference with the case of the materials printed abroad because the same scam can still work.
If one wants to rig an election whichever option given, they can still do it. The only solution is to be security cautious, alert during and after the official counting of votes. Therefore, all political parties involved must ensure the right procedure is followed, otherwise whether local or abroad a thief is a thief. I support the printing of all election materials within the country because of the cost involved where the Electoral Commission of Zambia has to take care of all political party observer at the printing centre abroad, shipments, and other costs involved.
Government printers and other companies must show their capacity to do this job without challenges through bidding should the authorities plan to do this undertaking locally. We want the money to revolve within the country not paying companies abroad who don’t even employ Zambians. Zambians first and if anything let all the youths with good credentials and without political affiliation be squeezed in and work during this exercise. These are seasonal jobs which must benefit local people and if most youths from Chiawa and Kafue could be accorded an opportunity by having them on board as casual workers during the printing process the better. In our quest to see permanent and formal jobs, these temporal jobs help youths with capital for small business they may wish to undertake. Youths are true economic drivers and if properly empowered this could be a source of relief to the government through taxes that could be levied to these business initiatives.
Therefore, much as there may be irregularities we need to find strategic measures to curb illicit activities during the printing process so that it benefits Zambian business houses and local labour.