The manner in which the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission conducted itself in the period leading to the single-sourcing of ballot papers tender to the Dubai-based Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing company raises serious doubts on whether there was ever any intention at all for open tendering.
On at least three occasions, the commission was presented opportunities to openly tender and clear the suspicions around it.
Inexplicably, the commission failed to grab it, as it appeared hell-bent on single-sourcing the Sh2.5 billion tender to the “shady” company.
“It would be foolhardy that a company associated with President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is a candidate in this year’s General Election, can be awarded a tender as critical as for the supply of ballot papers,” Siaya Senator James Orengo said.
The IEBC first awarded Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing the tender on October 18. However, the award was contested before the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board by one of the losing bidders, Paarl Media, a division of South Africa’s Novus Holdings.
Nothing much came out of the appeal. Thereafter, opposition Cord moved to the High Court and successfully prosecuted a case against awarding the tender to Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing.
Even after the High Court nullified the award of the tender to Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing, the IEBC did not see the need to immediately go back and invite fresh bids. Instead, the IEBC put in a notice of appeal that was curiously withdrawn before the Court of Appeal could hear the matter. As the IEBC was withdrawing the case, the Dubai-based company, apparently on the urging of individuals within the commission, lodged an appeal in the Court of Appeal seeking to overturn the High Court ruling.
Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing’s appeal was dismissed in April this year. It was then that the IEBC decided to go for a restricted tendering.
However, information that the Nation has obtained is that the restricted tendering was sabotaged by a staff member within the directorate of procurement who apparently sold the bid documents to a company that had not been invited to bid.
With that, the IEBC again lost an opportunity to competitively tender for the ballot papers as one of the bidders, Rosecate Promotions and Supplies, challenged the process on the grounds that the IEBC had flouted its own rules guiding the tender.
The PPARB, which has itself been accused of working in cahoots with IEBC officials in awarding the tender to Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing, then terminated the tender.
In terminating the tender, PPARB Chairman Paul Gicheru, in a way, directed the IEBC to single-source the contract.