, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 14 – Five mega poll tenders are at the heart of the latest tug of war between Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairperson Wafula Chebukati and Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba.
According to an internal audit conducted by IEBC’s Audit Directorate, the tenders did not adhere to procurement laws as well as guidelines set by the commission plenary.
The tenders include procurement of election technology both for the August 8, 2017 General Election and the subsequent October 26 repeat presidential election
“The assignment (audit) has established, in some cases, non-adherence to procurement laws, rules, regulations, laid down procedures and guidelines as well as plenary resolution in procuring services, products, and goods,” the classified audit seen by CapitalFM reads.
The report is said to have informed a majority verdict to have Chiloba sent on three months compulsory leave following a plenary meeting chaired by Chebukati on April 6.
According to an affidavit sworn by Chiloba in a petition filed at the Employment and Labour Relations Court, Chebukati, Commissioners Boya Molu, and Abdi Guliye voted for the compulsory leave with Vice Chairperson Consolata Nkatha and Commissioner Paul Kurgat walking out in protest.
According to the Chebukati-sanctioned audit, sums payable for election contracts are said to have varied, at times exceeding the amount of funds set aside in budgetary allocations.
In tender number IEBC/52/201-2017 for instance, the audit raised queries on the variation of the order for the provision of a database and security solution for Kenya Integrated Election Management System (KIEMS) by Sh 196,606,337, a service that was provided by Oracle Technology Systems (Kenya).
According to the audit, there was no acknowledgment for the payment of Sh 75,862,068 (exclusive of Value Added Tax) on January 23, 2018.
In tender IEBC/45/2016-2017 for the provision of strategic communication and integrated media campaign consultancy services, the audit pointed the failure to delink aspects of the tender that had been overtaken by events by May 18, 2017, when the commission plenary reviewed it.
Despite activities such as the Mass Voter Registration (MVR), register inspection and nomination of candidates having lapsed, the period for the execution of the said contract remained a year while the contract price stood at Sh 350 million.
According to the audit, Sh 105 million, representing thirty percent of the contract amount, was paid on September 15, 2017.
The audit sought clarity on why the contract was not reviewed hence contravening sections of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act (2015) and the Public Finance Act (2015) which requires that public funds be utilized in such a manner that there is value for money.
Also disputed is tender number IEBC/34/2017-18 for the provision of election technology support for the October 26 fresh presidential elections management system valued at $ 23,788,186.
In tender number IEBC/56/2016-2017, a deal for the supply and delivery as well as installation and commissioning of network for results transmission was found wanting after Airtel Kenya was found to have supplied 1,553 devices despite the telecommunications company having indicated it could only deliver 1,000 devices.
The audit document pointed out that key procurement procedures could have been violated in the Sh 912,897,840 deal.
In tender number IEBC/104/2016-17 for the provision of Biometric Voter Registration server, infrastructure maintenance, security and monitoring, the audit noted that a number of deliveries were delayed in the $ 4,351,743.31 contract split into three phases.
The Directorate of Supply Chain Management and ICT was tasked to explain why some delivery notes were missing. The directorate was further ordered to submit a contract implementation report.
Chiloba unsuccessfully sought the suspension of his forced leave pending the hearing of a petition seeking to quash the commission’s directive when Employment and Labour Relations Court Judge Stephen Radido declined to stop the compulsory leave on Friday.
“It would be prudent, in the view of the court, to have the full facts before issuing any orders,” Justice Radido ruled while declining to issue ex parte preservatory orders sought by Chiloba through his lawyer Andrew Wandabwa.
In his affidavit, Chiloba had told the court that the decision to have him go on compulsory leave was prejudicial since he was not accorded an opportunity to defend himself.
“The purported decision was hastily arrived at by three Commissioners without affording me an opportunity to answer to any of the allegations including responding to the internal audit report,” he said.
“The purported decision was arrived at without the requisite quorum in terms of the number of Commissioners required for the Commission to transact business as envisaged in the Second Schedule to the IEBC Act,” he added saying his exclusion in the plenary, as Commission Secretary, meant that the meeting was not duly constituted.
Justice Radido set May 7 as the hearing date for Chiloba’s petition.