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Thursday, 14 March 2013

IEBC FAILURES AND THE ROLE OF THE COURTS

I am taking the liberty to post my following comments and observations for your perusal, hoping it will be helpful in assessing whether the elections management process met the reasonable standards of integrity, efficiency and cost effectiveness.

It has been rather unfortunate that IEBC messed up the electoral process, right from the outset, starting from the flawed and irregular procurement of the BVR (biometric voter registration kits), Electronic Voter Identification Devices, Ballot papers and even general electoral materials such as indelible marker pens, solar powered lanterns, polling station banners etc.

Moreover, all appeals (I believe numbering 5) made by aggrieved parties (bidders) before the Public Procurement Administration and Review Board were thrown out on basis of the overriding public interest (that the elections were round the corner) with the exception of the case of supply of solar lanterns where the appeal was allowed as there was a clear element of impropriety and fraud involved concerning the company awarded the tender.

The courts have also delayed the finalisation of the appeals and then used the same excuse of public interest as was in the case of the appeal by AVANTE INTERNATIONAL (USA) for the supply of Electronic Voter Verification Devices and in case of the supply of ballot papers and where the court process was delayed.

In another instance, again the proceedings were delayed and the Judicial Review (JR) application dismissed on grounds that the matter had been overtaken by events and which was due to delivery orders being placed by IEBC while the JR proceedings were on going. This was contrary to law which requires that procurement proceedings come to a halt once a JR application is filed by the aggrieved party as was in case of an appeal involving the supply of general electoral materials, including supply of indelible marker pens, solar lanterns, tally printers , polling station banners, etc.).

When I challenged in court the fraudulent supply of BVR kits I met a similar fate. Mr. Justice David Amilcar Shikomera Majanja's court blocked me and even made a mockery of the law when it certified the case urgent but fixed the hearing of the application several months away. In all instances the judge ensured that the IEBC got away with its schemes despite glaring irregularities and anomalies and led to the country spending tripple the amount had the tender award been made to India's 4G Solutions as per the original recommendation. There is more than meets the eye as vested interests have been at play, including inn the courts. I have voluminous documentation to support my stand.

Some have described the huge budget as a gravy train to be exploited.

The election management process was definitely flawed owing to dysfunction/ non-function of the various equipment/technology and that has not been addressed or captured at all.

My assessments in this regard are as follows:

The system for transmitting provisional results was procured in a hurry through IFES (and which procurement was funded by USAID) and the process was done at the last moment around Christmas/New Year with a bidding period of about 5 working days only, without going on a proper international open tender. Other more credible and well known systems (eg from AVANTE TECHNOLOGY of USA ) were apparently disregarded despite having been successfully used in Uganda.

The public needs to know how many bidders participated and what system was procured and from whom. Safaricom supplied the mobile phones and the connection network but who supplied the software system and who was the systems integrator? IEBC must answer these questions.

The other point is that the mobile phones did not have a power back up such as solar chargers which were missing and I suspect that was one of the main cause of the problems encountered and needs to be addressed in case of a presidential rerun to avoid the delays recently experienced.

The problem could have been solved if IEBC would have used the election transmission system employing satellite phones which procurement (under IEBC TENDER NO 1/2012-2013) was cancelled at the last moment when the item was surreptitiously removed from the list of items without IEBC giving any reasons.

Had the satellite phones been procured from THURAYA or IMMARSAT, the results could have been transmitted through the satellite system using the satellite phones without being dependent on SAFARICOM.

Why did IEBC leave everything till the last minute and why was the item deleted?

Also the procurement of the electronic voter verification device (EVID) was marred with irregularities, when IEBC bought the device from FACE TECHNOLOGIES of S.Africa which had never been used or proven and despite the fact that the sample given by FACE was completely different at the time of tendering from what was supplied - this was irregular and the tender awarded despite the fact that the device did not properly work at the time of demonstration.

Why was FACE again being favoured by IEBC? Please note that it was previously favored by the IEBC Tender Committee for the procurement of the BVR Kits, to the detriment of the more qualified and lower priced Indian bidder (4G Solutions), which was the front runner that was initially shortlisted as potential supplier and the other S.African bidder, Lithotech, which was knocked out using flimsy excuses.

It is the vested interests of IEBC which is the cause of the current failures.

The BVR kit supplied by SAFRAN MORPHO was not powered by a proper solar power back up system and that could explain the malfunction experienced in the elections and in this case the procurement was again questionable as the procurement process was compromised due to a hiked up price and the delayed procurement owing to the vested interests. This in turn caused a resultant delay in the voter registration process taking off and disenfranchised many voters due to the short time allocated for the process.

IEBC was captive to vested interests and was not properly prepared to take up this exercise.

There was also poor management in connection with the procurement of the ballot papers and which was done at exorbitant pricing.

I shall be happy to avail supporting documents to back up the above information which I am posting here in good faith, hoping that it may prove useful in demanding a complete forensic audit of the IEBC.

Best regards
Okiya Okoiti Omtatah

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