The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission Justice Simon Mugenyi Byabakama has insisted that local firms do not have the capacity of printing the ballot papers for the 2021 elections.
Byabakama told journalists at the EC headquarters on Thursday that the Commission is in fresh discussions with the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDA), to allow them give the printing tender to foreign companies to print these ballots in time and in a most convenient and unsuspicious manner.
Six local printing companies; Picfare industries Ltd, Graphic system ltd, Inline printing services, Multiplex Ltd, Wave media, New Vision printing services and Hi Tech Graphics Ltd dragged the commission to PPDA after it neglected their bids for the ballot printing at shs41bn.
The EC awarded the contract to foreign companies of; Tall Security printers (UK), Uni print (South Africa), United printing and publishing (Abou Dhabi, UAE), Adare Sec Ltd (UK) and Al Ghurair printing and Publishing Company (Dubai), at a total sum of Shs81bn.
PPDA on Wednesday this week ruled that it was wrong for the Commission to sideline local companies yet the government is promoting the Buy Uganda Build Uganda policy (BUBU).
Byabakama however, told journalists that his technical team assessed that “there is technical incompetence in some of our local printers in the area given the high numbers, value and the time element.”
“That is why we said let the printing be handed over to the foreign entities not because we are not supporting government programs but because we are handling a delicate item,” he said.
He added, “The Commission cannot afford to have any delay in printing of ballot papers because remember any delay pushes the Commission in a situation of non-compliance with Article 61(2), where elections must be held within a specified time frame and that is why the Commission chose to sideline the local firms” he added.
Byabakama noted that although local firms got the favor of PPDA, awarding them contracts to print the ballots is next to impossible.
A section of opposition leaders have clashed over this issue with some supporting local firms to print, while others say it will promote vote rigging.