The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has said it will maintain a security printer which also printed the ballot papers for the 2019 presidential election to print ballot papers for the forthcoming fresh presidential election.
MEC said in a statement signed by chief elections officer Sam Alfandika that the commission got authorisation from the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority to engage United Arab Emirates (UAE) based Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing to print the ballot papers.
However, the printer which is located at Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing LLC Masafi Compound, (Behind Fairmont Hotel – Shaikh Zayed Road) 2nd December Street, Satwa, PO Box 5613, Dubai United Arab Emirate, will not start the ballot paper printing exercise until the setting of polling date by Parliament.
“The new Commission, once in place, will also have to decide and guide on supervision and observation of the printing process by itself and political party representatives in view of the Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions,” reads part of the statement.
The Chief Elections Officer said MEC will advise stakeholders of the period for the printing and delivery of ballot papers once all details become clear.
There has been a trend of printing ballot papers outside the continent at huge costs.
Critics argue that the large sums of money used in the printing of the ballot papers does not translate to free, fair and credible elections. There are always complains that elections are rigged and after four or five years, a repeat process takes place with more money spent on sustaining a democracy that doesn’t reflect in the lives of the citizens.
Critics say the need to involve local printers in the process of printing ballot papers is not necessarily a panacea to solving electoral problems.
They argue that in a continent where the current mantra is “African problems, African solutions,” the continuous printing of ballot papers outside the continent not only supports the economy of countries abroad, but it mocks Africans.