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EACC Is Investigating IEBC Chairman Chebukati In Suspicious Sh397.4M Referendum Ballot Printing Deal Awarded To De La Rue

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Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati.

Electoral Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati is being directly targeted in an investigation into the contract he awarded to British firm De La Rue to provide ballot papers for a constitutional referendum due in June.

It has emerged that IEBC, which singlesourced a local firm to print ballot papers for by-elections in September 2019, had also included a provision for printing referendum materials.

In the deal entered between IEBC and De La Rue Kenya, EPZ Ltd, the commission included the printing of 20 million ballot papers at Sh397.4 million.

The electoral agency entered into a deal for tender No. IEBC/DP/02/2019-2021 with De la Rue on September 20, 2019, after abandoning a restricted tender.

The award was on ‘as and when required’ for a period from October 2019 to the end of 2021, suggesting IEBC had factored a possible referendum by end of this year.

And in another separate contract for tender No. IEBC/02 (B)/2019-2021 for supply and delivery of forms 35A on an A3 paper, the commission seeks to acquire at least 41,000 result declaration forms at Sh383 per page.

This means the IEBC will spend a minimum of Sh16 million if the result declaration forms will only be a single page for all the 40,833 polling stations across the country.

When the commission signed the deal, activist Okiya Omtatah wrote to the IEBC seeking information on who had participated in the restricted tender that had been floated initially.

Omtatah sought to know how and why the commission had settled on De la Rue that had not shown interested when the restricted tender was floated.

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In his response dated November 24, 2019, IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said four firms; Ellams Product Ltd, Sintel Security Solutions Ltd, Hills Converters (K) Ltd and Kenya Literature Bureau, had applied. Ellam Products Of the four, only Ellams Products was found to be responsive in the preliminaries but was knocked out for allegedly failing to pass the technical evaluation stage.

“Therefore, the procurement was terminated on 27th August, 2019 and on 28th August, 2019, wrote to the Procurement Regulatory Authority seeking approval as there was urgency forward by-elections,” Chebukati said.

Mukoya Andrew Musangi, the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) chairman, has already provided the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) with all documents relating to De La Rue’s contract. The British printer obtained exclusive rights to print ballot papers for Kenya’s upcoming referendum.

Former IEBC CEO James Oswago
Image: FILE

In 2013, Oswago and Wilson Shollei were charged with failing to comply with procurement laws.  The two allegedly failed to ensure the changes made to the contract awarded to Face Technologies Limited by the IEBC for the supply of Electronic Voter Identification in Tender No. IEBC14/2011-2012 were approved by the agency’s tender committee.

On a different count, they were accused of using their offices to improperly confer a benefit on Face Technologies Limited by approving payment of Sh1,397,724,925 for the supply of EVIDs without ascertaining that devices supplied were inspected, accepted and met the technical specifications in the contract.

Still on tender skirmishes, in 2016 ahead of 2017 elections and still under leadership of Chebukati, NASA leader Raila Odinga, petitioned against Sh2.5B Tender No. IEBC/01/2016-2017 for supply and delivery of ballot papers for election results, declaration forms and poll registers to Al Ghurair Print and Publishing Company Ltd of Dubai.

Chairman Majid Al Ghurair again led a delegation from the Dubai Chamber of Commerce to Nairobi in October last year and was hosted by the President at State House, Nairobi. A picture from the State House meeting was published at the chamber’s website, www.dubaichamber.com

NASA argued that the tender awarding was illegal and contrary to the provisions of the law. The NASA chief claimed that owners of the firm are close to Jubilee administration’s top officials and are likely to influence the outcome of the August 8, 2017 polls in President Kenyatta’s favor.

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EACC is now reviewing the tender files with aim of weeding out the possible loopholes that were left in the single sourcing of the tender and if the chairman was personally culpable as the net is cast wider. The now disintegrated NASA team has consistently called for reforms in the electoral body. With Kenya likely to hold a referendum this year and a general election next year, it will be important not to leave any stone untouched and any rogue character sent to the bins.


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