Government selects ballot paper supplier

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GOVERNMENT has selected a company to print ballot papers and supply indelible ink for the forthcoming harmonised elections.

The Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Praz), it is understood, gave the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission the green light to source voting materials via direct tender due to security and time considerations.

The tender would normally have been announced in the Government Gazette, with bidders invited to apply, after which a selection process would ensue and then a winner named. With elections due by August 21, it was felt there was not enough time to follow this process, hence the decision to use a Praz provision for direct tendering.

In an interview last week, Zec Chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba said the body had identified a supplier and awaited Praz authorisation to sign a contract for ballot paper and indelible ink. She did not name the firm.

“We are in the process of being authorised by the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe to do a direct purchase of those two items. The procedure is now in its last stages. These are considered security items so . . .  we write to (Praz) and ask for the authority to do what is called a direct tender. It is the authority that allows us to enter into a contract with a specific company.

“The service providers to print ballot papers for the 2018 harmonised elections have already been identified but in the interim, their identity cannot be disclosed as the commission is still undergoing the necessary procurement formalities.”

Justice Chigumba stressed the security nature of procuring and storing ballot papers and indelible ink as one of the reasons for going to direct tender.

“The reason why we use this procedure for ballot paper and ink procurement is they have very specific quality, so if we do a public tender we are not going to guarantee the quality that we want and risk compromising security issues. Ink, for example, should be ink that can’t be tampered with. That is why we do what is called a direct purchase.”

Justice Chigumba ruled out the possibility of providing Braille ballot papers.

“On Braille ballot papers, we have not done a survey as a commission to determine how many people we have who can actually read Braille. It’s not everyone who is visually impaired who has been taught how to read Braille, so until and unless we have done that for 2018 elections we are not going to have Braille ballot papers, but we are certainly looking at it for the next election.”

The commission has announced public tenders for items such as generators, mobile toilets, computers and field cameras.
According to Section 52A of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13), Zec will have to publish the identity of companies that supply any election-related materials and equipment. The law also requires Zec to publish the number of ballot papers and contact details of the service provider.