Editor's Comment

Zambia’s democracy is growing

LUSAKA Zambia.

CITIZENS are becoming enlightened by the day on the democratic rights through various media channels.
This is the reason why there is a huge turnout by citizens to have their votes count and declare their choice of candidates.
Much as the profile of our intra and inter-party has been growing, the downturn has been the printing of ballot papers abroad.
Printing ballot papers is as good as buying foreign goods. It promotes the industries where ballots are printed from and killing our own.
We have been robbing our own country through remittance of foreign currency to the countries where ballot papers have been printed.
There has been talk by the Ministry of Works and Supply to build the capacity of Government Printers to start printing ballots for the 2021 elections.
The decision is long overdue because it will save the country a lot of resources.
Instead of spending millions of Kwacha printing ballot papers in Dubai, the United Kingdom or South Africa, it will make economic sense to revamp Government Printers.
The net result is that Government Printers will employ more workers who will be paid and these workers will bank this money locally, allowing banks to lend out to other Zambians and most of the money will be spent locally to boost other businesses.
All this creates increased economic activity and strengthens the Zambian economy and the Kwacha.
Printing ballots locally is in fact long overdue given the strides the country has made politically and economically.
Printing the ballot papers and other elections materials is therefore significant because it is inexcusable in this era for the country to have anything printed in other countries.
It is heart-warming, therefore, that Government is beginning to walk the talk on this matter.
Minister of Works and Supply Mutotwe Kafwaya has announced that Government will partner with a German company to print the 2021 ballot papers.
He says that a steering committee to actualise this decision has been put in place. This is as it should be. This is progress and it must be supported without any hesitation by all stakeholders.
With state-of-the-art machinery in place, there is no reason to delay the intention any further. To ensure flawless operations, trial runs should be done on by-elections that may arise before the 2021 general elections.
It is important too that all staff are adequately trained to man this equipment. The partnership with Germany, one of the world’s top countries in printing equipment, is key to passing on the skills to Zambians.
Those tasked to man this equipment must ensure that they give every Zambian the hope and confidence that the job is in good hands.
There has also been anxiety about security at Government Printers. This, we would like to believe, is being taken care of.
Zambians would not want to see or hear of leakages as happens in the education sector in which students and pupils get examination papers long before the examinations.
The Ministry of Works and Supply should bear in mind that there is need for a national moral and ethical resolve to handle this without controversy.
Building transparency and confidence will be very critical so that suspicions about the system being manipulated are cleared.
These can be done during the trial phase so that all stakeholders, starting with the Electoral Commission of Zambia, the poll monitors and the political parties, are satisfied with the security and other measures put in place.
It is always for the good of the country to hold credible elections in which losers will be satisfied and begin to prepare for the next elections.
Beyond this, Government Printers will earn a good name which could see the institution attracting countries in the region to look forward to having their ballots printed here.
This would earn Government Printers and the country the much-needed foreign exchange.
Zambia can also start earning money from election tourism as political parties and other institutions will be coming to observe the printing of their ballots.
While monitoring the printing of the ballots, they will leave their money in the economy by staying in our hotels, using local transport, airtime, as well as consuming our food.
Printing ballot papers locally will not only enhance credibility of the electoral process but will add the aspect of sovereignty that we can do it on our own.

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