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Poll plans on course, says IEBC boss

Thursday January 3 2013

Stephen Mudiari | Nation IEBC chairman Issack Hassan during the interview with the Nation on January 03, 2013 at his Anniversary Towers office in Nairobi.

Stephen Mudiari | Nation IEBC chairman Issack Hassan during the interview with the Nation on January 03, 2013 at his Anniversary Towers office in Nairobi. 

By BENJAMIN MUINDI [email protected]

Q.  You have explained before that the IEBC chose direct procurement (single sourcing) of ballot papers as opposed to competitive bidding because of time constraints. Why wasn’t the procurement done on time?

A. This is a question of planning the election process. I agree that we should have done the tendering last year. But there is so much to be done in the commission and the management came up with the proposal that given the time constraints we could not go through the whole process of tendering.

Direct procurement is in the law and entities can fall back on it in case they need to but I want to say that the company that is making an issue out of this tender was not even in our shortlist of bidders at the pre-qualification stage of suppliers.

The company just came out of the blue and wrote a long letter to the Public Procurement Oversight Authority and copied to us. The letter was neither a complaint nor a petition and therefore we could not respond to it.

Q. Has the British firm Smith & Ouzman producing the ballot papers also sub-contracted other companies to help accomplish the task thereby creating security risks?  Do they have capacity to produce the papers in time?

A. In the award of the tender, Smith & Ouzman made it clear that within three weeks, when printing, packaging and shipping will be taking place, they are going to have two strategic partners. They didn’t hide it and it was agreeable with us.

So by the time they were being awarded, it was already known to the commission that they were to have partners. The number of ballot papers they produce will dependent on the voter register and the possibility of a run-off.

With 14.3 million voters registered and each using six ballot papers, we are going to purchase fewer than 100 million ballot papers.

Q. Are there any risks of late delivery of the ballot papers?

A. No, we don’t foresee any delay. Smith has assured us that there will be no delay. The company delivered ballot papers during the referendum on time and there was no delay.

Q. How prepared is the IEBC in the event of a run-off? 

A. Money has already been allocated for the run-off by the Treasury and Parliament has approved it in the supplementary budget. We will recall the same officers — security and electoral — whom we employed and trained during the first round only that this time round, the contest will be for presidential elections. We will provide separate ballot boxes for the run-off and the ones used during the first round just in case there is a petition.

Q. The country has about 70,000 police officers. How will that number cater for all the polling stations and leave enough for emergency?

A. We had been assured by former Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere on the security capability of the police force to man the elections. Generally, we have an agreement with the police.

During the elections, the Inspector General has been empowered to enlist other officers from the disciplined forces including prison warders, Kenya Forestry Services, National Youth Service, Kenya Wildlife Service, among others.

Q. Do you have any provision for political hotspots, banditry and cattle rustling-prone areas?

A. We do not have such provisions but the National Cohesion and Integration Commission has given us a report saying that 27 counties are hotspots. Apart from that issue and what is happening in Tana Delta, Baragoi and Garissa, we basically rely on information given to us by the security agencies.

Q. How prepared are you to handle six-tier elections?

A. After mock elections in Kajiado and Malindi, we have learnt how long it takes for a voter to complete the process. Of course it is a new election and I cannot predict with any degree of certainty. But we have made all the necessary preparations to have the elections done properly.