NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 29 – Pressure mounted on Sunday for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to cancel the controversial Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) system tender.
Narc Kenya Chairperson Martha Karua called for fresh tendering process so that Kenyans can follow it openly.
Karua who is also the Gichugu Member of Parliament said if the wrangles in the tendering process continue, they might compromise the integrity of the commission and the whole elections process.
“The only way to make every single Kenyan to follow is to put the whole process online, from evaluation, the technical issues which are coming up and the reasons why they have given the tender to company A and not Company B,” Karua said after attending a church service at ACK Church in Kahawa Sukari.
She added that there is need for IEBC to act as an independent body and avoid any external manipulation at all cost.
“We should be able to follow and see if there is any manipulation, because what is happening is that power brokers on both sides of the government are trying to manipulate the tender, for their benefit and not for the benefit of Kenyans,”Karua added.
The delay in the tendering process has been occasioned by a standoff at the IEBC, where vested interests in the lucrative deal sparked infighting.
This is after a former tender committee which later resigned gave the tender to a company which quoted a higher figure than IEBC’s Sh3.9 billion budget.
Separately, Civil Society Organizations under the banner of Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ) also called for the cancellation of the tender terming it as ‘flawed’.
The group said on Sunday that the current tender process failed to inspire public confidence and that new process must be initiated noting that was also the advice of the Public procurement Oversight Authority.
Africa Centre for Open Governance Executive Director Gladwell Otieno said the tendering process had raised many questions which needed to be addressed.
“The entire process has been somewhat murky. We have heard the reports of the Indian company which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs alleged was blacklisted in India. What it points to is that large scale procurement in Kenya continues to be a playground for people who are looking to make a quick buck and we are saying elections are not a place for people to be trying to make a quick buck,” she stated.
She said it was important for the IEBC to have maximum disclosure in all its processes as a way of keeping the public informed and engaged.
“We think that the IEBC in the past has been quite open and reached out but around this process there has not been the level of information we expect as Kenyans since these are our resources and our information which we have a right to because its about our future as a nation. Everything must be done to reassure Kenyans that everything is done in an above board manner and in a transparent and open manner,” Otieno opined.
The row over the purchase of the 9,750 Biometric Voter Registration kits has sent fresh fears of delays in the electoral process, with the IEBC bosses admitting registration of voters, which was to take off in mid-August will now be pushed to early September due to the imminent delay in acquisition of the kit.
IEBC plans to register 18 million voters electronically.