POLITICAL parties and journalists are today expected to visit and witness ballot paper printing at the state-owned Fidelity Printers & Refiners and Printflow Pvt Ltd which have been contracted to print ballot papers for presidential elections and for the House of Assembly, senatorial and local government polls.
By Wongai Zhangazha
The printing of ballot papers has become one of the sticking points as Zimbabwe gears up for its first general elections since the toppling of long-time leader Robert Mugabe in a coup last November.
Information gathered by the Zimbabwe Independent shows that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) will print ballot papers for the forthcoming general elections locally.
It is understood that the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe gave Zec the approval to source voting materials through direct tender due to security and time considerations.
The Independent also understands that South Africa-based paper and packaging giant Mondi Ltd had been contracted to supply newsprint to be used for printing ballot papers.
There was heightened speculation that government was considering hiring a company from Eastern Europe to do the work, raising suspicion of manipulation.
The speculation gained traction after Zec chairperson Priscilla Chigumba and special advisor to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Chris Mutsvangwa visited Russia to observe elections recently.
Mnangagwa is facing MDC Alliance candidate Nelson Chamisa in the country’s first elections after the overthrow of Mugabe.
Former vice-president Joice Mujuru, former MDC-T deputy president Thokozani Khupe and 17 others are also participating in the polls.
A senior government official told the Independent the electoral management body had resolved to print ballot papers locally.
Last week Jameson Timba, Chamisa’s chief election agent, while filing nomination papers at the High Court said his party’s election demands still stand that is an audit of the voters’ roll among other requirements.
“We want to know who is printing the ballot paper, where is it being printed, we want to be able to physically see that. That does not require an Electoral Act to allow us that but this answers to issues of transparency. It does not require the amendment of any law. We want to know who is looking after this ballot paper after being printed. We want to know the quantity of the ballot paper . . . What will happen to all the excess ballot papers? We want to know that,” Timba said.