Editor's Comment

Stop cheap politicking

SEVEN million US dollars is a huge amount of money which if prudently injected into any project, visibility and impact is guaranteed.
If invested in the road sector for instance, so many kilometres of roads can be constructed.
If invested in the education sector, many classroom blocks can be constructed, desks procured and many vulnerable children can be helped to access education.
If invested in the health sector, it can help improve accessibility to quality healthcare through procurement of medical equipment and drugs.
If pushed into the social cash transfer resource basket, it can empower thousands of poor Zambians out of poverty.
If invested in agriculture, this money can help boost the country’s food basket and revenue.
Given an opportunity to save this amount of money to meet these other needy areas, who would object?
Anyone in their right-thinking state would jump at the opportunity.
This is why Government has opted for ballot papers to be printed locally, not only because Zambia can now do so, but also because this would save the country these millions of dollars.
It has been established that by printing ballot papers locally, Government will save a staggering US$7 million which can then be used for other needy areas.
Minister of Works and Supply Felix Mutati told a media briefing on Thursday that printing ballot papers locally will not only result in saving a minimum of US$7 million but will also prevent the export of jobs.
“Let’s not doubt our capacity and capabilities (to print ballot papers locally), let’s not export revenue by printing documents abroad. As a country, we have capacity to do many great things,” Mr Mutati said.
It is an act of unpatriotism to insist on exporting revenue by outsourcing services that can be provided locally.
Those opposing the printing of ballot papers locally are simply unpatriotic or politicking, or both.
We understand that some opposition parties want to make themselves relevant by making adverse comments on every issue or action taken by Government.
Our humble advice is for them to apply wisdom and objectivity in doing so. They should also avoid politicking over important national issues.
One does not need to be an economist to understand the basic logic behind Government’s decision.
Printing ballot papers locally has significant benefits. As Mr Mutati stated. Apart from saving money, printing ballot papers will help create more jobs in the printing sector.
It is also expected that if the printing department is given a contract of such magnitude the benefits will extend to other local players in the supply chain.
Surely 53 years after independence, this is what we should be doing – empowering our local firms and citizens.
For how long is Zambia going to continue building other countries at the expense of itself? By exporting revenue Zambia is depriving itself of resources that are supposed to revamp the country’s economy.
Moreover, Zambia also needs to start building confidence in its own institutions because if it doesn’t, no one will.
If Zambia continues outsourcing printing of ballots, then it sends a clear message that it lacks such capacity when in fact not.
Records are there. In 1991 ballot papers were printed locally. How can Zambia fail to print ballot papers now that it has even acquired state-of-the-art printing machinery.
There is need for a mindset change. Thankfully, Government under the leadership of President Lungu is pointing the country in that direction.
Those opposed to printing of ballot papers locally alleging that elections will be rigged, are free to come forward and propose ways of sealing loopholes, if there are any.
This is the message President Lungu has sent out to them. They need to come on board and authenticate their claims as well as propose a solution.
The 1991 elections which were won by an opposition party despite ballot papers being printed locally invalidate concerns of rigging.
Let’s forge ahead together.

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