Jun. 16, 2017, 12:30 am
The country is facing an electoral crisis.
Four presidential candidates yesterday rejected the Dubai-based firm awarded the Sh2.5 billion ballot printing tender over its alleged improper links to Jubilee and President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Jubilee yesterday hit back. It accused the NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga of improper contacts with a South African printing company that he was promoting for the tender. Majority leader Aden Duale alleged Paarl Media Limited ad promised Sh1 billion to Raila’s election campaign in exchange for the tender.
The IEBC says the tender has already been awarded and will not be cancelled.
Election Day is 52 days off.
The four — Raila, independent Joe Nyagah, Ekuru Aukot of the Thirdway Alliance and Professor Michael Wainaina of the Federal Party of Kenya all said reports Kenyatta had met the printers had compromised credibility of the ballot printing process.
NASA says the Dubai firm was selected to help rig the election.
“There was general consensus among presidential candidates during our meeting that the IEBC [should] cancel the tender to Al Ghurair, whom media reports suggest has links with the highest office in the land — and award it to a firm not associated with any of the political formations,” Aukot said after meeting IEBC commissioners.
Jubilee, meanwhile, made fresh allegations against Raila, whom it says has sensed defeat and wants to spoil the polls on August 8. It said Raila met officials of South African printer Paarl Media (Pty) Limited three times last year and wanted IEBC to award it the tender.
“We know representatives of the firm met the NASA candidate three times,” JP secretary general Raphael Tuju said. He added that the party did not mind the tender being awarded to that firm.
“We have said give the tender to any firm. For us, it is not the ballot papers that will vote, it is the people of Kenya.”
Aukot called for the disqualification of both Uhuru and Raila form the racer over what he called attempts to influence the tender.
“Jubilee has been accused of improper contact with Al Ghurair. It has not denied. It has gone ahead to accuse NASA of trying to pitch another firm. I say disqualify both these people because of the likelihood of bias they have already admitted,” Aukot said
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati yesterday said the contract still stands.
“If you look at our timelines, actually today (yesterday) we should be doing the artwork for the ballot. So, we do not have time to go into procurement of the ballot tender again,” he said after meeting presidential candidates at the Hotel Intercontinental.
He said any commission employee would be fired for trying to influence the tender. “As it stands, these are mere allegations,” Chebukati said.
While the four candidates demanded scrapping the tender, Uhuru and Deputy President William Ruto yesterday accused the opposition of plotting to delay the polls.
“Enough is enough. We will not accept their attempts to postpone elections. We know their game but we will not allow Kenyans to be denied their democratic right to choose the leaders they want on the date stipulated by the Constitution,” the President told supporters in Kericho.
Uhuru questioned the ethical correctness of the involvement of Hamida Kibwana in the NASA campaign, although she figures in the ChickenGate printing bribery case. She was a procurement officer with the former poll body and is part of the NASA legal team. She is accused of collecting Sh2.3 million on behalf of the former electoral body from the agent of UK printer Smith & Ouzman. The case comes up on June 30.
NASA says IEBC should sack Immaculate Kasait, director of Elections Operations and Voter Registration, “for facilitating Jubilee’s interests”. She has not commented.
Tuju also disputed claims Kenyatta met at State House with the Al Ghurair boss, the head of the firm that won the Sh2.5 billion tender.
“The man the President met just shares a name with Al Ghurair, the head of the firm that won the ballot paper tender.
“They just share a name and we have done due diligence that the man the President met was an Al Ghurair that deals with cement, not the one of the printing firm,” Tuju said.
NASA’s team led by its head of Legal Affairs yesterday told the IEBC they will not go to Dubai on the printing monitoring mission and will not attend other meetings to discuss printing ballot papers, unless IEBC addresses issues raised.
They complained that not even the officers mentioned — Ezra Chiloba and Immaculate Kasait — had been asked to give written explanations of their alleged connections with Jubilee.
Instead, the two were still supervising critical activities, NASA said.
“Our position as the opposition is we will not accompanying anyone to Al Ghurair Dubai or participate in any meeting on ballot papers until the IEBC accepts that the existing contract was not proper — and puts in place a good new contract,” Raila’s lawyer Paul Mwangi said.
Tuju alleged that Ben Sachs and Dr Patel Shailesh, whom he said was associated with Paarl Media, are close friends of Raila.
(Pty) Ltd are great friends of Raila
“I want to state clearly we don’t care who gets this contract,” Tuju said.
But Otiende Amolo and Mwangi, representing Raila, denied the claims.
“It is unfortunate Tuju employed diversionary tactics and allegations regarding some companies, which are not known to us and did not even tender.
“Our position as stated earlier is that the importance and legitimacy of any election require the person that arbitrates the elections as the IEBC, the entity that prints the ballot papers, should not have any association with any political players.
“IEBC has failed to address the main issue that Al Ghurair is associated with Jubilee,” Mwangi said.
Independent presidential candidate Joe Nyagah called on the IEBC to be open and work with all stakeholders to avoid suspicion.
Wainaina urged the IEBC to be independent in light of allegations NASA had a preferred firm.
“We are appalled by the developing story casting doubt on the tender award. If these reports are true, the credibility of the poll is already compromised,” he said
Last night NASA issued another statement, insisting the entire ballot procurement process had been skewed.
“The first time the company was awarded the contract, the commission had irregularly disqualified all other bidders and passed Al Ghurair as the only qualified bidder passing technical evaluation. IEBC then concluded that only one company, Al Ghurair, met evaluation criteria to supply ballot papers and election Forms,” Suna East Junet Mohamed said on behalf of the campaign team.
Majority Leader Aden Duale, flanked by more than seven JP lawmakers, told reporters at Parliament Buildings that the South Africans Raila allegedly met had promised the opposition a billion shillings.
“ He (Raila) met them in a deal where they agreed to contribute Sh1 billion to his campaign after assisting them secure the printing tender. This never happened and the NASA chief has been bitter for having lost a trusted campaign financier,” he said.
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