Finance Minister Njeru Githae yesterday said the Canadian government will decide which company will supply the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission with Biometric Voter Registration kits.
The kits, which are due in the country within the next two weeks, will be provided as a loan to the government.
"We have formally entered into negotiations with the Canadian High Commission to find a company that will supply the kits to IEBC as a government-to-government loan worth Sh4.6 billion. It is now upto the Canadians to identify the company that will supply the kits," said Githae.The government took over the procurement of the kits after IEBC cancelled the tender because out of the four shortlisted firms the two lowest evaluated bidders did not meet the due diligence requirements and the other two bidders were above the commission budget of Sh3.9 bn.
Reservations have been expressed about the involvement of the government in the matter with concerns being raised that the decision by the executive to reinstate the use of BVR kits was a form of interference in the independence of the judiciary. Yesterday, Githae said the IEBC had played a big role in the negotiations as it had provided the Canadian authorities with the necessary information and specifications that they needed to be able to identify the company or companies that will supply the kits. "They are well aware that IEBC needs the kits within two weeks for them to be put to use otherwise if they are supplied in September they will be useless,"said Githae in response to concerns that have been raised that the kits might cause a delay in the election timetable.
The Canadian IT firm which was tipped to supply the Biometric Voter Registration kits to IEBC through a government-to -government deal was wound up last month. The assets of Code Inc, an affiliate of a Canadian registered charity Canadian Organization for Development through Education, were immediately taken up by Electoral Services International Inc.
Code Inc was voluntarily wound up on July 12, 2012 in a "non-conventional liquidation" undertaken by Ernst & Young. The new owner of ESI are Dwight Casson who was previously the chairman of the Code Inc and who has confirmed the latter's liquidation. The IAEM consortium promised the government that it was ready to deliver 2,000 kits within two weeks, another 30,000 poll-book kits within the same period in addition to providing electoral services in tallying, counting and transmission if it was awarded the tender.
A new consortium operating under the name International Alliance for Electrons Management (IAEM) and which comprises of three other companies-Canada's Cross Match, Netherlands' Smartmatic and South Africa's Lithotech- yesterday emerged as a front runner after the team working on the deal decided to lock out the four companies that had earlier bid for the tender-India's 4G, Kenya's Symphony, South Africa's Face Technologies and Israel's Ontrack innovations.
South African firm, Face Technologies is now understood to have joined another consortium which is also bidding for the tender. FaceTech, which was the third evaluated bidder in the terminated IEBC tender, informed treasury that they had already 5,000 left over from their work in Namibia and were able to ship them into the country in two weeks. Even as the government was working on providing the IEBC with the BVR kits, it emerged that the CEO James Oswago was under siege from some of the commissioners who wanted him sacked over the kit fiasco.
About four commissioners want Oswago to be sacked and were behind the recent recruitment of two deputy CEOs. The other five commissioners are opposed to this as they fear it will lead to a further erosion of the public's confidence in the IEBC. The Commission has recently appointed Beatrice Kemunto Sungura-Nyabuto as the deputy commission secretary in charge of operations. She was the former CEO of the Law Society of Kenya and has previously worked with FIDA. Wilson K. C. Shollei was appointed the deputy secretary in charge of support ervices.