The nightmare of public procurement and recruitment
Posted Saturday, August 11 2012 at 19:45
The ongoing saga surrounding the purchase and installation of a Biometric Voter Registration kit has focused our minds mostly on the infighting at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
The blame game and standoff between commissioners and the secretariat plays out in an ever exciting yet frightening way.
Politicians posturing about the importance of biometric kit or flip flopping the way ODM did have drawn bemused attention.
Yet beyond the absurd theatre lies the fundamental dilemma in our procurement laws.
The electoral commission has outlined the difficult labyrinth of statutory procedures that have to be followed in procuring the kit.
And yet their conduct has shown most blatantly why this mosaic of red tape has not added to the credibility of their effort.
This is a matter of substantial concern.
During the period we have been going through constitutional and statutory reform, Kenyans have developed a mountain of procedures for all manner of procurements that run the risk of grinding us to a halt.
The public procurement laws have turned into a nightmare.
Instead of enhancing transparency, our procedures allow for nuanced provisions hidden in verbage that tend to compromise transparency.
The only constant is that our inability to tread transparently and grow confidence guarantees that projects rarely take off because of the cycle of absurd steps to be followed.
Not that the problem is limited to procuring services and contracts. We have recently witnessed the red tape of political parties registering and validating their members.
Fortunes were spent running around the country to borrow identities and claim nationwide presence for otherwise briefcase parties.
Individuals continue to be surprised by the discovery that they belong to parties they never knew existed.
Any politician will tell you that the Political Parties Act and the Elections Act were neither conceived nor written with political intelligence in mind.
Aspirants for elective offices across the land are busy trying to understand the requirements for candidature in the coming polls. They must come to terms with integrity requirements of the Constitution, satisfy educational qualifications, language proficiency and tax compliance.
Those with educational loans must get clearance letters from the Higher Education Loans Board. Then kicks in the flood of datelines. When to stop fundraising activities, when public officers must vacate office, when parties must submit nomination rules, dateline for presenting membership lists, filing of party lists and candidates, etc.
If you are laughing because this is a burden for politicians, chances are that you have not attempted to apply for employment with our constitutional commissions. Candidates are now being asked for certificates of good conduct, vetting by the Credit Rating Agency, clearance by Kenya Revenue Authority and Higher Education Loans Board, and a bill of health from the anti-corruption authority.