What you need to know:
- Sh3 billion tender for ballots printing and supply was awarded to Greek firm Inform P Lykos
- The electoral commission ignores court cases, says it was not barred from completing process.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has signed contracts with two firms that are supposed to print and supply ballot papers and the maintenance of the management system for the August elections.
This despite the cases pending in court in which unsuccessful bidders challenged the process leading to the award of the two tenders.
CEO Marjan Hussein Marjan said in an interview the commission had gone ahead to sign the contracts because the court did not bar the two processes.
“Despite the suit challenging the award of the two tenders, the court did not stop the process. It has never issued an injunction,” said Mr Marjan, adding that IEBC is prepared for the poll.
The two tenders are critical components of a general election and any delay in their procurement can affect the integrity of a poll.
The Sh3 billion-tender on the printing and supply of the ballot papers was awarded to a Greek company, Inform P Lykos.
It is a three-year open tender that requires the firm to, besides ballot papers, supply statutory election results declaration forms that will be used at constituency, county, and the national tallying centres.
The Sh4 billion Kenya Integrated Election Management Systems (Kiems) tender involves the supply, delivery, installation, testing, commissioning, support and maintenance of the kits.
The tender, which was awarded to a Dutch firm, Smartmatic, also involves maintenance of software and hardware equipment and accessories for the running of the election.
The award of the two tenders is the subject of civil litigation after the unsuccessful bidders went to court on grounds that the processes leading to the awards was illegal.
Kiems kit tender
As the court of first instance, the Public Procurement Review Board, separately nullified the award of the two tenders after it established that the commission bungled the procurement.
However, the decisions of the board were overturned after the commission filed an appeal in the High Court.
Risk Africa Innovatis Ltd is challenging the award of the Kiems tender, arguing that the data migration was not budgeted for at the time the tender was floated. It further claims the procurement was not done by a fully constituted commission.
The board cancelled the Kiems kit tender after finding that IEBC had not followed the law while shopping for the new system to be used to identify voters and to transmit results. The decision was as a result of a request for review lodged by Risk Africa Innovatis.
Shailesh Patel T/A Africa Infrastructure Development Company, Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing LL and Tall Security Print Ltd challenged the ballot tender award to Inform Lykos. But the application by Shailesh Patel was thrown out after the board established the firm was not a tenderer.
The two tenders were the critical contracts, comprising about 30 percent of the cost of the 2017 election and an audit by the auditor-general concluded that they were the most abused.
According to report of the auditor general, Sh12.2 billion worth of contracts procured by IEBC for the 2017 general election were not supported by the performance security bond. Direct procurement of goods and services worth Sh9.23 billion – awarded between January 2016 and October 2017 – only benefited favoured suppliers.
Mr Marjan, who has been acting CEO since September 2018 until his formal appointment two weeks ago, insisted that the process leading to the award of the two tenders is clean.
“The two processes were above board,” said Mr Marjan, pointing out that it was the reason the High Court overturned the verdict of the procurement board.
Mr Marjan said the commission had learnt from its past experiences and opted to start and conclude the procurement early to forestall last minute vendor wars that were witnessed in the past.
“We started the procurement of election materials based on our past experiences,” he said, referring to the last general election, when legal battles nearly derailed the 2017 polls.
“The commission is in a better place in terms of procurement of election-related material than it was in either 2013 or 2017 general elections.”
The commission has sought the help of Parliament to have the National Treasury frontload Sh4.7 billion from allocation due to it in the 2022/23 financial year under strategic intervention and brought forward to pay for some of the commission’s expenses planned for this financial year.
Part of the funds will go towards ICT systems for an audit of the election technology, expansion of wide areas network to 30 county offices and developing a collaboration framework with mobile network service providers for results transmission system.
The funds will also be used to upgrade the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) database and hardware infrastructure to accommodate more than 20 million voters.
At the moment, the commission is consolidating the voters’ register to incorporate the additional 2.5 million new voters who were enrolled during the recent enhanced continuous voter registration exercise.
After the consolidation, the register will be handed over to the consultant who will clean up the register to verify its credibility for the August poll.
“We are in the final stages of recruiting the consultant who will carry out the audit,” he said.
The consultant will compare the register with the data from the National Registration Bureau and that at the Registrar of Birth and deaths.
The law requires that such an audit be completed two months to the date of the poll, in this case June 9.