The idea of the local firm was backed by Raila Odinga-led Nasa and Alliance for Real Change candidate Mohamed Abduba Dida.
The possibility of a local firm getting the tender to print presidential elections papers became more likely on Monday after presidential candidates made the proposal.
Thirdway Alliance Kenya presidential candidate Ekuru Aukot presented a detailed written memorandum asking the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to single source the tender to a local firm, but hire an international logistics company to monitor the movement from dispatch to the polling stations.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party said they did not mind who gets the tender, “including even our competitors in Nasa”, with presidential candidates Cyrus Jirongo, Joe Nyagah, Prof Michael Wainaina and Japhet Kaluyu not opposing such a move.
Nasa team, which was led by Siaya Senator James Orengo, also proposed that the tender be subdivided to two firms, with the vendors asked to provide ‘inventory of paper treated for ballot printing”, and the political actors allowed to supervise printing, delivery and distribution.
“This is a shameful meeting. . . Give Jubilee and Nasa Sh10 million each, we have no problem. If they are saying they cannot, give it to the Government Printer or take it to these people on Kirinyaga Road. It is not a big deal,” Mr Dida told the IEBC.
The meeting was convened following a ruling by High Court on Friday that quashed the printing of the presidential elections ballot papers by Dubai-based Al-Ghurair.
In the meeting, the candidates and their representatives argued whether they can legally suggest what firm can print the ballot papers, which are scheduled to be printed by July 18.
“Our money is printed here in Kenya. And we have had no issue with it being a legal tender. And three weeks is adequate time (for ballots), and it should be not be an excuse at all that we have no time, “ said Mr Orengo.
The first delivery of all the 120 million ballot papers for all the six elective seats has to start by July 25, and the last batch on August 2, according to IEBC.
And with only eight days to the set deadline, IEBC will on Tuesday be walking on a tightrope to get almost impossible consensus in picking a new firm, getting them to order the not-readily available security papers for printing in five days, and ensuring that the last batch is in the country by August 2.
Jubilee Party refused to discuss who should get the tender, saying the move would amount to conflict of interest.
“We cannot sit here and discuss who is given the tender to print ballot papers for a presidential election that our party leader Uhuru Kenyatta is a participant.
But we have no problem with whoever gets the tender, we just want them ready by August 8 when elections are held,” said Prof Kithure Kindiki, who led the four-member team that represented President Kenyatta.
Prof Kindiki, the Senate Majority Leader, was accompanied by his National Assembly counterpart Aden Duale, his deputy Kipchumba Murkomen, and party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju.
“There can be no other definition to conflict of interest than that of presidential candidates sitting in a meeting to decide who wins the tender to print ballots for such an election,” Mr Murkomen said.
The Nasa team also refrained from commenting on a specific firm that should get the tender, but presented a memorandum they said will guide IEBC in its decision.
The team also said that election results declaration forms be unique to a polling station.
Prof Wainaina said: “We want IEBC to tell us what they have inferred from the judgment before we can proceed.”
IEBC chair Wafula Chebukati said the commission will retreat and come up with a solution soon.
“This was really a consultative meeting. And next time we call presidential candidates, it is important that they come. You can never be too busy to meet the commission. It helps the country,” he said.