Queries remain over IEBC vote register tender
Posted Tuesday, August 7 2012 at 23:30
It was a normal tender when the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission invited bids on February 15.
However over time, the Sh3.9 billion biometric voter registration (BVR) kits tender has mutated into a dangerous balloon, capable of blowing offshore the high expectations of Kenyans and international community of a fraud-free General Election.
IEBC chairman Ahmed Isaack Hassan blames the whole saga, that has forced the government to step in and help procure the registration kits, on the rigours of the procurement laws, and political and bidder rivalry.
But politicians, MPs, the Executive, the clergy and the civil society do not buy Mr Hassan’s arguments, instead pointing fingers at the divisions in the commission he heads for the controversy that could easily trigger chaos similar to the one that followed the December 2007 elections.
Says Mr Hassan: “The commission emphasises that its preferred option for registration has always been biometric voter registration. However, the acquisition of BVR kits was frustrated by cumbersome procurement laws and procedures, as well as political and vendor rivalry.”
Perhaps not, Mr chairman.
Let’s retrace the process, from the beginning up to July 23, 2012, when the commission cancelled the tender.
At the close of the tender on March 26, the commission had received a total of 29 bidders which were passed to the evaluation committee made up of 10 members drawn from the IEBC, Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), and UN Development Programme. Out of the 29 bidders, 18 were disqualified at the preliminary stages, with 11 going to the evaluation stage.
Four companies — 4G Identity Solution, Systems Integrated Limited (Symphony), Face Technology and On Track Innovations — were to be evaluated for their financial capability. On April 29, the evaluation committee recommended 4G Identity Solutions as the lowest evaluated bidder at Sh3.73 billion.
In May, an IEBC team visited India to evaluate 4G Identity Solutions.
In the first week of June, IEBC received information from the Foreign Affairs ministry to the effect that there was an order suspending 4G Identity Solutions from operating by the Unique Identification Authority of India for non-compliance to rules.
Acting on this information, the IEBC on June 19, announced that it was rejecting 4G Identity Solutions and ordered due diligence on Symphony.
The tender committee had recommended Face Technology as the viable option, but the company was rejected as it came in third and had quoted a figure that was Sh810 million above the IEBC budget.
IEBC chief executive officer James Oswago questioned the decision in a letter dated July 6, 2012, to the secretary of the tender committee.
“How do we award a quotation nearly Sh1 billion above budget? On what basis or premise do you negotiate such a difference and at what point, and where is the guarantee or indication that the vendor can discount their quote within the budget? And, if we do this, why not extend the same to other vendors?” he asked.
And when documents were leaked to the media, Mr Oswago did not hesitate to blame them on the team, falling short of calling them “rotten”.
He said: “Your sources are rotten and they are the ones leaking the documents, tainting the reputation of the commission which has some very good people in its employment.” It was wrong, he said, to blame the entire commission for the mistakes of a few people who “broke every procurement rule”.
The tender committee, chaired by Ms Praxedees Tororey, resigned in a huff and a new team led by Ms Immaculate Kassait was named.