Ballot paper saga: Foreign firms bid Shs17b higher

Monday October 26 2020

A man casts his vote. PHOTO/RACHEL MABALA

By Misairi Thembo Kahungu

New information about the ongoing ballot printing procurement saga shows that the foreign companies won the contract bid about Shs18b higher than the local firms.   

According to the information obtained by Daily Monitor, the local printers quoted Shs41.7b for the six lots of ballot printing while the foreign firms quoted Shs59.5b.

Six local printing companies: Picfare Industries Ltd; Graphic Systems Ltd; Inline Print Services; Multiplex Ltd; Wave Media Ltd; and, New Vision, Hi Tech Graphic Ltd, bid separately for the six ballot paper printing lots. None of them was considered.

The EC Public Procurement and Disposal Unit awarded the contract to print the ballots to foreign companies: Tall Security Printers (UK); Uniprint (South Africa), United Printing and Publishing (Abu Dhabi, UAE), Adare Sec Ltd (UK) and Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company (Dubai).

The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) is this week expected to make a decision on the petitions filed by three local printing companies which accused the EC of favouring foreign firms in awarding the contract to print more than 187 million ballot papers for the 2021 elections.

The ballot papers will be used in the presidential, parliamentary and local government elections that will be held between January 9 and February 10.  Though the date for Presidential elections will be set after the November 2 and November 3 nominations, the voting date for MPs of the 11th Parliament has been fixed as January 14.


The local firms claim that EC did not subject foreign firms to due diligence like it was in their case. They contested the EC reasoning that they were denied the contract due to lack of capacity. The local forms say the EC has contracted them to print ballot papers in previous elections, which job they accomplished and were issued certificates of completion.

Picfare Industries Ltd, Graphic Systems Ltd and Inline Print Services petitioned PPDA after EC dismissed their application seeking administrative review of the bids on October 7.

On October 6,  Mr Archy Kiwanuka, the chairperson of the Uganda Printers and Packaging Association (UPPA), wrote to President Museveni seeking his intervention on account that the EC breached the Buy Uganda, Build Uganda (BUBU) policy in awarding the ballot contract to foreign firms. 

The UPPA also alleges that the prices at which EC has awarded the contract to the foreign firms is Shs40b higher than that which was revealed at the time of the bid opening.