By Tendai Kamhungira
Opposition political parties have said pronouncements by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Priscilla Chigumba that they will only be allowed to observe the printing process of ballot papers were not sufficient enough to allay their rigging fears.
On Wednesday, Chigumba said the electoral body’s commissioners had unanimously agreed that it was unconstitutional for political parties to be part of the ballot papers procurement process.
But the opposition told the Daily News yesterday that observing alone was not enough and was against the spirit of transparency in the process.
Thabitha Khumalo, spokesperson of the country’s largest opposition political party, the MDC, said their party would not relent from its demands.
“… we want to know where we secure the papers, the transportation of the papers from point A to point B, the security of the place where they are going to be stored.,” she said.
“We want our own people to be part of the security and we also want a trial run, where we have to wait for at least seven hours to demystify the fact that Xs disappears. We also want to know the number of ballot papers that are going to be printed, vis-à-vis the number of registered voters,” she said.
There has been disagreement between the ruling party and the Nelson Chamisa-led opposition MDC on the number of ballot papers that would be printed, where they are to be printed and the name of the organisation printing them.
The opposition is persistent that the identity of the companies concerned should be made public.
The MDC wants the process to be subjected to open tender while the ruling party is adamant that such a move will compromise national security.
This also comes after Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi recently rejected proposals by MDC parliamentarians for an open tender for the procurement of the ballot papers, claiming this was against the country’s current procurement provisions.
But according to the Thokozani Khupe–led MDC, their demands are beyond what has just been offered by Zec.
“We are not at all satisfied. We demand the full package, warts and all. We demand to know how the tender to award the printing of ballot papers was awarded.
“What was the criteria for choosing the company that will print ballot papers? And how much money is this company going to be paid for printing the ballot papers? What are the security features on the ballot papers?” the camp’s vice president, Obert Gutu, said.
Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spokesperson Jacob Mafume, said government was creating problems for itself by failing to come clean on the organisation that is going to print the ballot papers. Daily News