Mercy Mwai @wangumarci
Fresh details emerged yesterday over how the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners were sharply divided during the procurement of the multi-billion-shilling elections kits used during last year’s polls.
Minutes tabled before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chaired by Opiyo Wandayi revealed how three of the seven commissioners objected the award of Sh6.6 billion tender to French IT firm OT-Morpho to supply 45,000 Kenya Integrated Elections Management Systems (Kiems) kit.
According to the minutes of the March 31, 2017 meeting, commissioners Boya Molu, Abdi Guliye and Paul Kurgat objected to the award of the tender on grounds that there was no value for money and that the company did not have the capacity to deliver especially on result transmission as it relied on a company that had no good reputation.
In addition, the three said the core business of the company was in aero scope, defence, security and not election matters as well because as they were not satisfied with the report of the secretariat on the matter.
But despite their opposition, the commission went ahead and awarded the tender to the company after a majority of the commissioners led by the chairperson Wafula Chebukati, former commissioners Consolata Maina (vice chairperson), Roselyn Akombe and Margaret Mwachanya, who have all resigned endorsed the tender.
“There were concerns on value for money. It was observed that a lot of expenditure on items that could be obtained at a lesser cost such as training components as well as the technical support were overpriced as these were basic services,” the minutes in part said in part.
The move came on the day that MPs learnt that all the commissioners approved the use of direct procurement of the kits to be used in the General Election contrary to claims that sacked chief executive Ezra Chiloba single-handedly authorised for the direct procurement of kits.
The MPs however, were told that the commission only approved Sh4.1 billion for the supply of 45,000 Kiems kits that was used in the August 8 General Election but did not approve Sh 2.1 billion for the same kits that were used for the repeat presidential election on October 26.
Appearing before the commission Chebukati, commissioner Molu and the acting chief Executive Marjan Hussein Marjan confirmed that the commissioners approved the deal, discounting previous claims that Chiloba had unilaterally procured the kits.
Chebukati said earlier questions raised on the company was because of the paperwork that secretariat had brought to them as it had quite a lot of issues that they needed to confirm, there were also other options they were considering such as leasing as well as because of compatibility issues. Based on this, he said that the commission resolved to precede with the tender due to time constraints as the election date was approaching.
“The minutes we have forwarded speak for themselves, we were working under tight time lines and the only option we had was direct procurement. , we approved but told the secretariat to follow the law,”he said.
Wandayi sought to know whether Chiloba would have procured the kits if the commission had initially objected to it.
Suna East MP Junet Mohamed demanded to know how the commission amended the contract for the acquisition of the kits to include Sh2 billion for the repeat presidential poll.
Molo MP Kuria Kimani said if direct procurement was an illegality then it is not only Chiloba who should go home but the entire commission.