IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba. (Photo: Boniface Okendo/Standard)
The electoral commission may have deliberately bungled the second attempt to procure 130 million ballot papers to benefit one firm, a damning 92-page ruling by the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB) reveals.
In the ruling that cancelled the second attempt at delivering a Sh2.5 billion tender, PPARB said the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) seriously flouted all manner of procurement rules in an effort to ensure a repeat of the first tendering process that saw Al Ghurair win the deal to supply and deliver ballot papers and result declaration forms in October last year.
The procurement review board found that IEBC was willing to lie about the number of firms that had applied for the tender, automatically putting Al Ghurair ahead of the pack.
“All the said firms were evaluated during the first procurement and all, except one, was found to be responsive at the preliminary, technical and financial evaluation stage and that is why only one firm was awarded the tender,” the review board chaired by Paul Gicheru said.
In the findings, IEBC claimed that it had invited the nine firms which lost the first tender and four others which had made inquiries for a restricted tender to beat the deadlines to the elections.
However, the board, on cross-checking IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba’s affidavit and email invitations by director of supplies, Mr Lawy Aura, discovered that IEBC had lied about the number of firms that applied for the tender.
The board established that IEBC only invited the nine firms and that the four that made inquiries were infact proxies of the nine firms.
“The board has established that only nine bidders submitted bids in the first tender and the four people who made inquiries were from four of the nine firms which submitted the bids,” the review board said.
According to the report, IEBC claimed that Ellams Product Limited, Manipal Technologies, Paarl Media, KL Hitech Secure Print, Al Ghurair, Baltijas Banknote, DPS Print supplies, Tall Security and United Printing were the nine that submitted bids.
Representatives of those who made inquiries were Kandadi Reddy (Ellams), Loluise McCullough (Paarl) Sandeep Joshi (KL HiTech) and Noeal Muyae (Baljitas).
When the board checked the minutes of the tender opening, they found that DPS Print was missing and Lantrade Global, Uprint, GI Solutions, Novus Holding and Digiprint were miraculously added to the list.
An email invitation also showed that an invitation to tender was sent by Mr Aura to a firm known as Aero Vote limited.
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“Based on all the above facts, the replying affidavit of Ezra Chiloba was false and it is clear that the decision on whom to invite or not to invite was left entirely in the hands of the Head of IEBC’s procurement department,” the review board noted.
The board’s verdict could fuel fears that IEBC may award the deal to Al Ghurair. This is informed by a similar decision last month where the commission picked French firm Safran Morpho in the Sh3.8 billion deal for the supply of the Kenya Integrated Election Management System (KIEMS), citing time constraints.
IEBC wants to resort to single sourcing, which is the only viable method as it is now only two months to the August 8 polls, noted the report. To conceal such blatant abuse of office, IEBC claimed that the tender was restricted after one firm, Rosecate Promotions and Supplies, moved to the board seeking review.
IEBC apparently advertised the tender on their website on April 28 and closed it after seven days on May 4, causing Rosecate to protest that an international open tender should not take a few days according to the country’s laws.
Chiloba defended IEBC, saying the advertisement was for “transparency” purposes and “the publication was merely for general information to the public”.
According to the findings of the review, IEBC claimed that the tender was restricted to the 13 firms even though they accepted a Sh1,000 application fee from Rosecate and invited it to the bid opening.
However, the board demonstrated that a Government body has to advertise for companies with specific capacities, pre-qualify them and invite them to bid instead of pulling eligible firms out of a hat without following any procedures.