Electoral agency under pressure to name ballots printer

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 last few days, been promising to name a company that will print the Sh2.5 billion ballot papers tender but this is yet to come to fruition.

There are fears that failure to name a company in the next few days will put pressure on the winner to deliver the papers in time.

“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.

BRAVE FACE

The commission has relieved off duties two of its top officials at the secretariat in the last few days as it puts a brave face that all is well.

On Wednesday, Nasa leader Raila Odinga also waded in to the debate and said his coalition will not accept any tender decision that will include a Dubai based printing company called Al Ghurair.

The National Conference of Churches of Kenya Secretary-General Canon Peter Karanja speaking on the sidelines of a press conference on electoral preparedness said 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 deliver credible elections,” he said.

Canon Karanja added that various actors are entitled to go to court if they feel arrived and judiciary should endeavour to hear the cases expeditiously.

VERDICT

According to its own timelines IEBC ought to have awarded the tender by May 28.

Last year, IEBC awarded the tender to Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company which 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 the High Court that there should be a fresh tender process.

The court ordered IEBC to restart the tendering process.

But the new process was stopped by the board after a company petitioned how the procurement was being conducted.

TORN APART

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.

The IEBC ICT director James Muhati was sent on compulsory leave a fortnight ago and week later IEBC director of procurement Lawy Aura was relieved of hiis duties at the commission on allegations that he had compromised the procurement process of election materials.

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Electoral agency under pressure to name ballots printer