The investigations into the irregular procurements and payments at the electoral commission for the 2013 General Election got murkier Monday after it emerged that more than Sh250 million was paid to a South African company in fictitious deals.
This was revealed former Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission CEO Mr James Oswago told his successor, Ezra Chiloba, to carry his own cross regarding the irregular payments.
Mr Chiloba, who is on compulsory leave pending investigations into audit queries arising from the 2017 elections, had accused Mr Oswago of the mess at the commission, the subject of investigations by the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee.
Appearing before the watchdog committee Monday, Mr Oswago put Mr Chiloba on the spot for approving the payments to Face Technologies, which supplied the electronic voter identification devices (EVIDS) for the 2013 General Election outside the contract.
Mr Oswago, who left the commission acrimoniously in October 2013, told the committee chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi that his problems with the commissioners started when he refused to approve the payments, saying they were illegal.
“I was invoiced by the company but I declined to pay. It was my successor, Chiloba, who paid them,” Mr Oswago said adding; “This was against the public Procurement and Disposal Act, and I was not ready to get involved in an illegality.
Mr Oswago also blamed the commissioners for interfering with the commission’s management. n.
“The commissioners or boards of management and directors are only allowed to discuss procurement plans and other matters but not to influence tenders. They acted illegally,” he said.
According to Mr Oswago, the commission signed a contract with Face Technologies on December 11, 2012, to supply 30,000 EVIDS at a cost of $16, 651,139.13, (The exchange rate at the time was Sh86 to the dollar).
But the commission’s plenary session, led by commission Chairman Mr Issack Hassan, changed the contract on January 26, 2012, and increased the kits by 4,000.
But because Face Technologies did not have a warranty or local service point where the kits would be serviced in case of problems, then IEBC Director of ICT, Dismas Ong’ondi, advised the commission to have the company deliver 600 kits on top of the 4,000.
“The extra 600 kits were not meant to be paid for,” Mr Oswago told the committee.
But appearing before the committee later in the day, Mr Hassan denied the allegations. He said that the commission never interfered with the secretariat.
“It is the management that informed us of the decision to increase the kits. We never crossed the boundary,” Mr Hassan said.