Opposition leader Raila Odinga. (Photo: Courtesy)
A South African national linked to ballot paper tender row has denied meeting opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Ben Sachs, the business development manager of Paarl Media, says he never met Raila as alleged by Jubilee leaders to seek his help to secure the Sh2.5 billion contract.
“It’s all lies. I have never met Mr Odinga as I have read in the news,” Sachs told Saturday Standard on phone from Johannesburg.
The businessman said he has only been in Kenya once in November last year for 12 days, when his firm appealed the decision to award the deal to Al Ghurair at the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board but left after losing the case.
“We lost further interest in the contract after losing the case at the review board due to technical reasons and Paarl Media resolved not to pursue it anymore. I never returned to Kenya thereafter,” he said.
On Thursday, Jubilee leaders led by National Assembly Leader of Majority Aden Duale sensationally claimed that Sachs and his local partner Shailesh Patel met Raila in 2015 and 2016 in Nairobi to strike a deal.
Jubilee further claimed that Raila had flown to South Africa later to meet Sachs and his team where the Opposition chief was allegedly promised funding for his campaign to a tune of Sh1 billion. “If need be, I can produce my passport and it can show that I was in Kenya only in November last year and not 2015. It is all lies by Jubilee,” Sachs said.
Patel, who was also linked to the bribe claim by Jubilee, has also denied the accusations, saying he has never met Raila. “Of course those are lies. I have never met Raila on any business dealings. The last time I met Raila he was Prime Minister and it was one of those infrastructural conferences.”
He describes the claims as outrageous and far-fetched, terming the Sh1 billion kickback as wild and unfounded. He also said it was false to claim he was a director of Paarl Media.
“Where will I get the authority to promise anyone Sh1 billion for a business deal? Even if someone was to pay kickback, how can it be that huge for a Sh2.5 billion tender?” Patel quipped.
Paarl Media (Pty) Ltd, a division of South Africa’s Novus Holdings Limited, lodged its application at the PPARB on October 7, 2016,seeking a review of the whole procedure.
In their application, Paarl Media cites several irregularities, key among them claims that the polls body denied them clarifications about the tender process in line regulation 43 of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act (PPOA) regulations that require a procurement entity to respond to such inquiries within seven days.
Again, the petitioner said IEBC breached section 58 of the PPOA law as the tender documents did not contain sufficient information to ‘allow fairness, equitability, transparency, cost-effectiveness and competition among the bidders.
However the case was through away when the board ruled that Sachs and Patel did not have a letter of attorney authorising them to represent the firm.
“The application is hereby dismissed and the procuring entity is to proceed with the process within the law,” board chairman Paul Gicheru ruled on November 28.
It also emerged that the papers filed before the tribunal did not have supporting affidavit from the firm’s directors. Instead, it was their lawyer who had filed his affidavit in support of the case. This, the tribunal noted, was against the law.