Revelations that the United Kingdom based company, Smith & Ouzman contracted to print ballot papers for the country’s by elections is appearing in court on corruption charges has potentially compromised the country’s electoral system, says National Restoration Party (NAREP) president Elias Chipimo
Chipimo has therefore demanded that the PF government immediately halts dealings with Smith & Ouzman until full investigations into the allegations were conducted to clear suspicions that government was fraudulently procuring ballot papers from a corrupt company.
Chipimo said revelations that Smith & Ouzman had also been sub-contracting some of its tenders meant that the company did not have the capacity to print security materials such as ballot papers.
The NAREP leader called for strict scrutiny and audit of the company because there were suspicions that the company was involved in illegal dealings and therefore could not continue to print ballot papers for the country.
Yesterday, the Daily Nation exposed a scandal in which Smith & Ouzman, the company contracted to print ballot papers for the country’s by-elections was in court on corruption allegations.
Smith &Ouzman Limited, two of its directors Chris Smith, Nick Smith, Tim Forrester and Abdirahman Omar were on October 23, 2013 at the Westminster Magistrate Court for corruptly agreeing to make payments totaling 413, 552,12 British Pounds contrary to section 1 of the corruption Act 1906.
Chipimo said Smith & Ouzman was committing a security breach by sub-contracting the printing of ballot papers and other security materials and that it was important that the Zambian government should with immediate effect revise its dealings with the company.
He explained that it was Smith & Ouzman that had been printing the country’s examinations certificates and should therefore be thoroughly investigated together with all the individuals past and current that had directly been dealing with the company.
He stated that the revelations were a warning to Zambians that the electoral process had potentially been compromised adding there was need for proper research on the activities of any company before engaging them in any form of business to avoid getting entangled in a corruption web.
“With the revelations that the company contracted to print our ballot papers was in court on corruption charges, there is need to immediately halt any further interaction with the company until it has been cleared of the charges of corruption for which it is appearing in court.“ Our electoral process has potentially been compromised by the revelations that Smith & Ouzman is in court on corruption charges and that is why government should stop dealing with the company,” Chipimo said.He has challenged the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) consider changing the supplier of ballot papers if Zambians will have the confidence of the electoral system.Chipimo said the credibility of Smith & Ouzman together with its directors appearing in court had been destroyed by the corruption allegations.