The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is under pressure not only to name a universally acceptable company to print ballot papers, but also to do it in time to avoid last-minute hitches.
The commission has, in the past few days, been promising to name a company that will print the papers in a Sh2.5 billion tender but this has not happened.
There are fears that failure to name a company in the next few days may not leave enough time for the winner to print and deliver the papers.
“It’s imperative that they name the winner in time because they will need time to seek and print the ballot papers,” said a source.
The commission has removed two top officials at the secretariat in the past few days as it presents a brave face that all is well.
On Wednesday, Nasa leader Raila Odinga also waded into the debate, saying his coalition will not accept any tender decision that includes Dubai-based firm Al Ghurair.
The National Conference of Churches of Kenya Secretary-General Peter Karanja, speaking on the sidelines of a press conference on electoral preparedness, said the IEBC should work within the law.
“IEBC has a mandate to execute its work with the law. And as long as they do not violate the law they should be at liberty to do what will enable them to deliver credible elections,” he said.
Canon Karanja added that various actors are entitled to go to court if they feel aggrieved and the Judiciary should endeavour to hear the cases expeditiously.
According to its own timelines, the IEBC ought to have awarded the tender by May 28.
Last year, the agency awarded the tender to Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company, but the decision was immediately challenged by Paarl Media at the public procurement administrative review board.
The matter dragged on until April this year when the Court of Appeal agreed with a High Court ruling that there should be a fresh tendering process.
But the new process was stopped by the review board after one company petitioned against the procurement process.
An appeal by Cecil Oyugi to have the board’s decision quashed was thrown out by Justice George Odunga, but not before he had his take on the matter.
“IEBC seems to have forgotten that in 2008 this country was nearly torn apart due to what was perceived to be a flawed manner in which elections were conducted.
“Kenyans expect nothing but the best from the commission this time round,” he said.
On Wednesday, Mr Odinga said Nasa was concerned that the removal of the two officials was a sign that all was not well.
“We don’t want to believe that we must only buy the ballots from Al Ghurair. There is something sinister,” he said.
IEBC director for ICT James Muhati was sent on compulsory leave a fortnight ago, and a week later director of procurement Lawy Aura was relieved of his duties on allegations that he had compromised the procurement process for election materials.