ELECTORAL Commission of Zambia (ECZ) director Priscilla Isaacs says the commission is ultimately in-charge of the elections process.
And the ECZ has explained that after its financial evaluation of bidders Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing LLC of Dubai was favoured as it emerged the most competitive bidder.
Commission public relations manager Cris Akufuna clarified that upon evaluation of 13 bidders for printing of ballot papers only two bidders met the technical requirement as specified in the bidding documents and the accompanying addenda.
Mr Akufuna said the commission advertised the tender in October, 2015 in line with the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) Act, No. 12 of 2008, section 26 and part VI of the Public Procurement Regulations (Statutory Instrument No. 63 of 2011) which requires that procurement of high values be conducted through open bidding.
He said at the close of the tender on January 22, 2016, 25 firms purchased the bidding documents but that only 13 companies submitted their bids.
“During the tender floatation, the commission attended to all clarifications sought by various bidders and issued addenda to the bidding document to ensure transparency of information and a level playing field among all the prospective bidders,” he said.
Mr Akufuna said the commission had always strictly adhered to the provisions of the Zambia Public Procurement Act and was therefore extremely disappointed by the utterances and accusations in the print and social media attributed to former chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee Charles Milupi, former ministers Edith Nawakwi Dr Vernon Mwaanga and Mr Wynter Kabimba who ought to be acquainted with sensitivities of the public procurement.
He said the commission was further perturbed by some media reports quoting Ms Nawakwi that the chairperson of the commission Justice Esau Chulu was colluding with the ruling party to rig the elections by printing the ballot papers in Dubai.
“The commission is a collegiate body which makes decisions collectively and as such takes great exception to single out for attack the Commission Chairperson Justice Chulu,” Mr Akufuna said.
He however said the commission remains committed to the values of accountability, credibility and transparency.
Mr Akufuna said the representatives of the candidates for the 2016 presidential election shall monitor the entire process of printing ballot papers at the full expense of the commission as has been the case in the past.
He further appealed to political parties and other stakeholders that were dissatisfied with its preparations for the 2016 general elections to use the established channels of communication for clarity of issues rather than make wild and unsubstantiated allegations.
“No further comments will be made by the commission on the printing of ballot papers tender until the entire process is concluded and the award made to the successful bidder,” Mr Akufuna said.
Meanwhile, Ms Isaacs has charged that the commission will be as transparent as possible during the August 11, 2016 general elections
Ms Isaacs said it was a pit that the opposition political parties have shown no confidence in the Electoral Commission of Zambia despite being transparent.
Speaking when she featured on the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) programme dubbed Sunday Interview, said it was a pit that the opposition had shown her lack of trust and confidence.
“It’s a pit because as a commission we have been as transparent as we can but all I can say is that we shall continue to be as transparent as we can,” Ms Isaacs said.
She explained that the commission would now be documenting the procedure for verification at the national results centre because it now had an Elections Consultative Committee (ECC) with representation from political parties, civil society organisations and church mother bodies.
“…And we want to ensure that we have a documented and agreed process of verification by the stakeholders who will be interacting with commission before announcing the results,”
“It is suffice to remind stakeholders that ultimately ECZ is in charge and we will continue to do our very best be as transparent and accommodative as possible,” Ms Isaacs said.
Meanwhile, Ms Isaacs said that just like in the past, election losers will always accuse the commission of not being transparent.
Ms Isaacs however mentioned that political parties were allowed to conduct Parallel Voter Tabulations (PVT) because it was common practice which must be encouraged.
She said PVT because was believed to give credence to the results that were announced by the commission.
Ms Isaacs however warned that those who would be conducting it should refrain from speculations because it was not allowed but that they should only make their results known after ECZ declares the official results.
She also added that there was no need for violence during campaigns.
Ms Isaacs encouraged political parties do their campaigns and allow people to support candidates of their choice.
“Political parties should allow people to support whom they want to support, be tolerant and allow their colleagues to have meetings without interruption and disruption by their colleagues,” she said.