French firm Gemalto SA has challenged the electoral commission’s move to cancel a Sh3 billion tender for the supply of a system for voter identification and results transmission in the August General Election.
The firm, in a letter to the Chief Executive of IEBC, Ezra Chiloba, said that it has the capacity to deliver the system within the legal timeframe of April 10, 2017.
“We submit that you consider this letter as a non-contentious approach in order to restore the tender process and begin the important work without any further delay,” the firm said in a letter signed by Charles Mevaa, its Vice-President, Africa Government Business.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission terminated the contract citing price, time and budget constraints.
“Your financial bid was significantly above the budgetary provision. The commission (also) considered that there would be no value for money to retain the voter registration component in Kiems at present,” Mr Chiloba said in the letter.
Further, Mr Chiloba told the firm that the April 10 timeline for the procurement of the system ready for the voter register verification to start on May 10, had presented a huge challenge to the commission.
“Given the remaining legal steps to conclude the tender, it will be almost impossible for the commission to execute its mandate within the statutory timelines,” the letter states.
But in their response, Gemalto SA said IEBC should have engaged with them to ensure the success of the tender.
“We offer this response in good faith with a willingness to engage with the Commission to ensure success of the Kiems project. By this letter we request an opportunity to engage with the Commission in order to address the understandably pressing concerns of the Commission,” the firm said.
On the budget, the firm said that IEBC should have negotiated with it on the quoted price.
“We also take the view, that the Kiems project was a new obligation introduced by the Elections Laws (Amendment) Act 2016 subsequent to the 2016/17 budget cycle and perhaps a determinate budget provision would have been difficult.
“Thus, a more persuasive reason would have been that provided under Section 63(1)(d) where “there is evidence that prices of the bids are above market prices”,” the firm said.
On the law and the timelines to be met, Gemalto has argued that IEBC should have sought clarifications regarding its “capacity and commitment to a mutually agreeable delivery timeframe.”
The IEBC had blamed legal suits on fears that it might not meet the April 10 deadline for the supply of the system crucial for the elections.
“Gemalto SA has full capacity and commitment to work with the Commission in order to mitigate the effects of litigation on the tender process and surmount the strict timeframes,” the firm said.
“We do have a track record of successfully deliveries of large scale projects, including elections-related solutions, within challenging lead times.”
Similarly, the IEBC had argued that since voter registration was part of the features the system should have, and having been overtaken by time, it should be removed from the deal.
“Our response is that whereas voter registration is a critical part of the Kiems project, the drive undertaken in January does not fundamentally or substantially alter the technology. In our view, the voter registration undertaken in January was conducted using a similar technology as the register which subsisted at the time of calling off the tender,” the firm argues in the letter.
The firm said that had it been asked, it was ready to alter its modifications to fit the IEBC’s new specifications.
“We submit that the technology offered by Gemalto SA offers unique opportunity to the Commission to fully integrate the full range of technology envisaged by the Commission including the cumulative progress of the voter registration. Our solution is also adaptable to the specific needs of the Commission,” the firm says.