NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 28 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on Tuesday said it will explore an ‘alternative method to procure voter verification kits after the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) halted sourcing of the system last Wednesday.
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati said the commission was left without an option of re-advertising the tender due to the tight timelines ahead of the election and the intricacy of procurement, testing and deployment of the complex system known as Kenya Integrated Electoral Management System (KIEMS), which by law must be ready four months before the election.
“The commission will put in place alternative measures to ensure that the integrated electronic technology provided for in Elections Laws (Amendment) Act 2016, section 44 in place by the legal timelines and on time for the May 10th biometric voter verification process,” he explained.
Section 44 of the amended Elections Laws Act 2016, compels the commission to set up a ‘simple, transparent, secure, reliable and a verifiable system’ “to integrate biometric voter registration, electronic voter identification and electronic transmission of results.”
As per the law, KIEMS should be in place four months before the election, meaning that the time left is inadequate to re-advertise, short-list firms and select the winning one early enough for the system to be supplied and tested 60 days to the elections and be used on May 10 when the voter verification process is scheduled to start.
In this case, KIEMS should be in place by April, a clear warning that re-advertising the tender will not manage to secure the system on time, a consideration that informed the decision of the commission to cancel the tender in its entirety.
“To mitigate against risks that may undermine the entire electoral process, the commission has decided to cancel the KIEMS tender.”
IEBC advertised for the tender on December 16 and even after an appeal seeking to quash the advertisement was withdrawn on January 20, the tender met yet another hurdle on February 22 when a firm lodged an appeal with PPRA which stopped the procurement until it could determine the appeal which will be 21 days after the application.
Chebukati further explained that the commission cancelled the tender due to vested interests of suppliers.
“The other case I have mentioned is on technology which is still ongoing – is a circus,” he explained, “you have vendors fighting out there, the vendor wars which are trying to undermine our processes and we as a commission are not going to allow individuals and people who are doing businesses to affect our processes, that’s why we are cancelling that tender.”
IEBC further announced it would re-advertise the ballot papers printing tender after a different court order nullified the Sh2.5 billion tender awarded to a Dubai based firm, Al Ghuraiar Printing and Publishing Company saying time was sufficient enough for the process to start afresh.
“The commission has decided to re-advertise the tender for the ballot papers, election results declaration forms and poll registers. I want to assure you that the period we have is sufficient to finalise the procurement process and to have this strategic material available within the timelines internationally recommended, which is at least two months before elections,” Chebukati explained.
The commission which has tight deadlines has been grappling with a myriad of court cases that have directly impinged its preparations for the August General Election.
Despite the sudden legal injunctions, the commission has been consistent in its promise that the elections will be held as per the Constitution on August 8.