LUCRATIVE TENDERS

Omtatah sues over IEBC deal for ballot papers

Activist wants the court to block IEBC from single-sourcing ballot papers contract

In Summary

 

  • An activist has moved to court seeking orders to block the IEBC from single-sourcing the contract for printing ballot papers to be used in next year's general election.
  • Okiya Omtatah claims the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is engaging a local supplier for a direct award of the tender, contrary to procurement regulations.
Activist Okiya Omtatah.
BALLOT PAPERS: Activist Okiya Omtatah.
Image: FILE

An activist has moved to court seeking orders to block the IEBC from single-sourcing the contract for printing ballot papers for next year's general election.

Okiya Omtatah claims the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is engaging a local supplier for a direct award of the tender, contrary to procurement regulations.

In court papers filed on Friday last week, Omtatah says the electoral agency is about to renew its existing contracts for the printing of electoral materials with De La Rue Kenya EPZ Limited.

The contract, which was entered into  two years ago, is set to expire in about four months.

In case number E238 of 2021, Omtatah wants the court to bar the IEBC from extending the contracts until the case he filed last week is conclusively dealt with.

"The application is extremely urgent since the contracts are about to expire and all indications are that IEBC wants to extend the contracts to cover 2022 General Election," the activist says in court papers.

Omtatah says he was compelled to file the case after the commission declined his numerous requests to provide information on the details of the contract.

He has  argued and maintained the contract was and still remains shrouded in secrecy.

The activist had written to the commission in February this year but did not get the information he sought, prompting his court action.

The case could compel the commission to reveal details of the lucrative contracts that are at the heart of the preparations for the 2022 polls.

In March, Omtatah wrote to the Commission on Administrative Justice  (The Ombudsman) seeking its intervention to have the IEBC disclose the details of the contracts.

However, Omtatah said the request to the Ombudsman was unsuccessful.

The activist now wants the court to compel the Wafula Chebukati-led IEBC to disclose the internal procedures taken in settling the change of the method of tendering.

For, instance, Omatatah wants the commission to provide the minutes that resolved to have the IEBC abandon a restricted tendering in 2019 in favour of direct procurement.

In 2019, the IEBC single-sourced a contract for the printing of ballot papers for the by-elections of September that year, but they included an unexplained provision for referendum materials.

In the deal, executed between the IEBC and De La Rue Kenya, EPZ Limited, the commission included the printing of 20 million ballot papers for 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 an ‘as and when required’ for a period from October 2019 to the end of 2021, suggesting that IEBC had factored in 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 that 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 in the country.

Now Omtatah is seeking the court's interventions to have the IEBC provide information on who participated in the restricted tender that had initially been floated.

He further seeks to know how and why the commission had settled on De la Rue, which had not shown any interest when the restricted tender was floated.

In his response at the time, IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said four firms: Ellams Products Ltd, Sintel Security Solutions Ltd, Hills Converters (K) Ltd and the Kenya Literature Bureau, had applied.

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 stage.

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

Already the commission has indicated that it will require about Sh14 billion to conduct a referendum.

(Edited by V. Graham)