Opposition parties in Zambia are questioning the choice of a Dubai printing company to supply the ballots for the August 11 general election. The electoral commission awarded the contract to the Al Ghurair Printing Company to prepare all ballots to be used, and the government says the printing is complete. But opposition parties, including the United Party for National Development, say the printing of ballots by a company outside the continent is too expensive and could be used by the government to rig the elections. Until this year, ballots for the Zambian elections were printed in South Africa. Jack Mwiimbu, the UPND’s head of legal affairs, said the decision could undermine the integrity of the presidential, legislative and local elections. He also said the party had documentary proof of some Zambians celebrating after the chairman of the electoral commission, Justice Essau Chulu, officially declared that the Dubai company had won the bidding for the ballot job.
Mwiimbu said that the UPND strongly doubted the polls would be credible and that the electoral commission should rescind the decision to award the contract to Al Ghurair. “I’m aware that most of the major political parties in Zambia and other major stakeholders have expressed their disquiet pertaining to the awarding of the tender to a Dubai-based company,” said Mwiimbu.
Edith Nawakwi, leader of another opposition party, the Forum for Democracy and Development, said the electoral commission’s decision could create tension and chaos.
Officials of the electoral commission said the presence of the representatives of the political parties and other stakeholders to monitor the printing of ballots in Dubai underscored the election body’s commitment to ensuring a transparent process and credible vote.