There is one word that appears to evade most Kenyans and especially politicians about the country’s electoral body. Independent. No one appears to want to respect the fact that IEBC is an independent Commission that should be allowed to do its work without undue interference and innuendos.
Kenyan politicians are running all over creating doubt in IEBC’s credibility especially over the Sh3.9 billion tender for Biometric Voter Registration Kits. This is a lucrative deal that any individual including politicians would be happy to get but for some just for the monetary gain and not necessary IEBC’s objective.
There are claims over the company being considered for the deal but no one is tabling any evidence especially whether Symphony lacks the financial and technical capacity to deliver the BVR solution for the next election. Instead of leaving the IEBC to exercise its independence by conducting due diligence on the said company, Kenyans and especially the politicians are out bashing the IEBC on unsubstantiated claims.
While, there are questions over Symphony, it is important that we be patient as a country and allow IEBC to go on with the tendering process without undue influence and attack on its credibility.
The credibility of any election, and even Kriegler told us after the bungled 2007 elections, is a clean voter register that minimizes the risks of manipulation including issues of double registration and dead voters. IEBC has not only demonstrated that this is possible through the pilot BVR project that involved 18 Constituencies ahead of the referendum but has now moved to increase this capacity ahead of the March 4, 2013 elections.
IEBC, as its chairman said on Monday, has made this process as transparent as possible involving professional outsiders and donors to observe the tendering process. IEBC rejected an India company, the lowest bidder, due to advise from the Asian country and our own government agencies. It then rejected a South African company which despite its experience made a bid that exceeds by Sh810 million and was third in the ranking.
Following regulation 50(3) of Public Procurement and Disposal Act which requires that tenders be ranked according to their evaluated price and successful tender shall be that with the lowest evaluated price, the IEBC decided to evaluate Kenya’s Symphony which came in second after the Indian firm.
There are some issues about the Symphony bid that seem to escape most of those who have been raising concerns about it. First, unless one can prove the political link in the company, it is rather unfair to bash the IEBC and yet it is in the process of seeking to establish whether this is true.
Secondly, Symphony has not made the bid as an individual company but as a consortium with a German firm – Dermalog – which has experience in large-scale biometric solution listed as the firm to provide the technical component. Financially, the company has sought and received the backing of an international bank for financial facilities extending to Sh3.7 billion.
While, there are questions over Symphony, it is important that we be patient as a country and allow IEBC to go on with the tendering process without undue influence and attack on its credibility. ECK went into the 2007 elections with a dented credibility that served no other purpose but to raise suspicions over its credibility.