Friday, September 02, 2011

Failure to print ballots shows backwardness - Chiputa

Failure to print ballots shows backwardness - Chiputa
By Agness Changala
Fri 02 Sep. 2011, 13:10 CAT

SENTIMENTS by President Rupiah Banda and the Electoral Commission of Zambia that the country has no capacity to print its own ballot papers are a shame, says University of Zambia lecturer Dr Euston Chiputa.

In an interview, Dr Chiputa, who is also president of the University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU), said the failure by the country to print ballot papers for next month's elections was an indication of how backward Zambia was technologically.

He said it was equally shameful to offload billons of kwacha in another country to print ballot papers when Zambians could do that.

"It's an indication that we have not achieved anything in terms of technology that we can't even print our own ballot papers," Dr Chiputa said.

"We are so backward and not able to print ballot papers for ourselves, let them step down and allow other people to take over."

He said President Banda's government's position on the printing of ballot papers was a sign that they were not ready to lead the country.

Dr Chiputa said it was important for the ECZ and President Banda to listen to concerns Zambians were raising on Universal Print Group (UPG), the company that was contracted to print ballot papers.

He said an unquestionable electoral process enabled all to accept the verdict.
Dr Chiputa said ignoring the concerns being raised by Zambians on UPG was a recipe for anarchy in the nation.

He urged President Banda to listen to Zambians and do the right thing, saying failure to do so, could plunge the country into chaos.

Dr Chiputa said President Banda should not behave like Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, who did not want to listen to his people.

He said leaders should learn to listen and do what people demand.
"Politicians should not think that when they are in power, they are too superior to listen to anyone; let them sit down and come up with a common stand on various contentious issues," Dr Chiputa said.

He said there must be a level playing field so that the presidential candidate who wins this month's elections will not do so fraudulently.

And Dr Chiputa said the government did not care about UNZA.
He said if the government cared about the institution, they would have given it the attention it deserves.

Dr Chiputa said the government had failed to honour its obligation of paying retirees their money.

He said UNZA in this year's budget was allocated K52 billion for suppliers, retirees and serving employees.

Dr Chiputa said out of the K52 billion allocated, only about K14 billion had been released.

He said the institution was not only experiencing inadequate funding but also late release of funds.

Dr Chiputa said the government had failed to pay retirees despite spending too much money on unplanned road projects, bicycles and chitenge materials for campaigns.

He said the union had pleaded with the government to make available the funds but nothing had happened to date.

Dr Chiputa said it was sad that UNZA was not looked at as a critical institution.

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