The spokesman for the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) says representatives from political parties and representatives from civil society and faith-based groups will travel to South Africa on Sunday to monitor the printing of the ballot papers for next month’s presidential by-election.
Chris Akufuna said an advance team of officials from the ECZ left Zambia to South Africa last week to prepare for Sunday's visit.
Some opposition groups expressed concern that the delegation includes officials from the Drug Enforcement Commission and other security agencies.
They say the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) will use the security agencies to rig next month’s vote to maintain the party in power.
Akufuna denied that charge and said security agencies have been involved in monitoring the printing of the ballot papers in 2006 and in the last general election in 2011.
“We have worked with them before in terms of the Zambia police, the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Drug Enforcement Commission. They have been part of the process observing the whole printing process,” said Akufuna. “So it’s nothing suspicious about them being included, but of course some stakeholders would say, why include them. They have been part of it from the past.”
He said the invitation of the political parties and others to observe the printing of the ballot papers is part of ECZ measures to ensure the election is transparent, free fair and credible.
“We are involving the stakeholders from the beginning as a way of building confidence in the process and as a demonstration that the commission has nothing to hide,” said Akufuna.
He said the political parties will receive, inspect and verify the shipment of the ballot papers from South Africa when they arrive in Zambia before they are distributed nationwide for the vote.
“Even as we distribute them from Lusaka now to the respective districts, we will as much as possible involve them,” said Akufuna.
Prospective Zambian voters are scheduled to vote next month to choose a new leader following the death of President Michael Sata.