Kampala Central MP Mohammed Nsereko has lashed at opposition parties pushing for the printing of ballot papers outside Uganda, saying such “shortsightedness” only “promotes other countries other than Uganda.”
Several opposition figures this past Wednesday said printing ballot papers for the general election in Uganda would undermine the integrity of the electoral process.
They claimed the entire process could be compromised in favour of the incumbent.
However, Nsereko this Thursday morning disagreed “with elements within parties who still think everything must be made out of Uganda,” adding, “Such a lame mindset is very unfortunate.”
He added: “Will the printing of ballots in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa or Germany make them more authentic? How can we be part of those who donate our taxpayers’ money to other nations and claim to be contesting for power to change a nation?”
Uganda imports products to the tune of US$7billion per annum.
The development comes at a time of a heated row between Ugandan manufacturers and the Electoral Commission over the ballot printing tender.
The Electoral Commission boss Justice Simon Byabakama maintains Ugandan manufacturers lack the capacity to print the ballots and deliver them on time, which could disrupt the process.
“We have to support Buy Uganda Build Uganda. But in our technical assessment, it was found out that the local companies do not have the capacity to print ballot papers. A ballot paper is not like any other print. It has many things. There are so many variables. When you set a newspaper to be sold to the entire country, what variable do you make there? When you set an examination paper, what variable do you have there?” Justice Byabakama was quoted by the local media as saying.
However, the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) earlier this week ordered the Electoral Commission (EC) to re-evaluate bids for Picfare Industries Ltd, Graphics Systems Ltd, Inline Print Services and New Vision-Hi-tech JV, which were reportedly sidelined in the Shs185b tender award handed to foreign ﬁrms.
PPDA’s decision reversed last month’s award of the multi-billion shilling tenders to some foreign ﬁrms to print ballot papers for the 2021 general elections.
PPDA also advised the EC to set aside some of the lots (batches) for participation on national and resident providers in the future procurement to be undertaken by the entity.
Support local content
Nsereko said he has “never seen South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda etc asking other countries to print for them polling materials. If we can’t handle a mere electoral process, what independence and change are we talking about?”
The lawmaker wondered: “So, some of these short sighted elements want ballots printed in China so that they are considered authentic? “Printed in Uganda or outside, the issue is that the process will be manned by Ugandans. I can’t be part of any group that promotes other countries other than Uganda.”