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Tuesday, 14 Feb 2017 11:25 EATnmuthoni@kenyafreepress.com
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has termed as serious setback Monday's ruling by High Court Justice George Odunga that cancelled the Sh2.5 billion tender awarded to Dubai-based Al Ghuraiar Printing and Publishing Company. IEBC chief executive officer Ezra Chiloba says all the decisions the commission has made in the last three months have been rendered invalid by the High Court ruling.
The CEO's comments on the ruling, however, came immediately it was delivered by the judge and before the commissioners had met to determine whether to comply with it or appeal the decision. At 11.47pm, the CEO wrote "My view: Just finished reading the 145 page judgement by Odunga J on the ballot paper contract. Huge implications for next elections!"
An hour and half later, at 1.16pm, he wrote, "Basically what Odunga judgment means is that all decisions made by IEBC in the last three months were null and void!" At 1.23pm, he posted another Tweet, "From Oct 6, 2016, Decisions on by-elections, ballot papers, audit, staffing, KIEMS, registration, ICT regulations..... all NULL & VOID," following up with another at 1.32pm: "Less than 6 months to restart key GE processes. Looks like it."
Perhaps having exhausted his criticisms, at 1.34pm he struck at the ruling itself: "Fundamental departure from public sector governance practice is the idea that board members should be engaged in procurement activities." The implication of the CEO's Tweets is a suggestion that IEBC could be forced to restart preparations for the elections.
As the head of the secretariat, the CEO works on the instruction of the commissioners, and his Tweets taking fundamental positions on a matter commissioners had not discussed was seen in some quarters as "jumping the gun." By this afternoon, there were reports that the commissioners had met to review the ruling, but they had not released a media statement yet.
Justice Odunga cancelled the tender awarded to the Dubai-based on account that it was unprocedural. He was ruling on a case which opposition coalition CORD had challenged the tender award on grounds it was awarded illegally. The judge said the tender did not comply with election laws.
Justice Odunga further directed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to start the tendering process afresh in compliance with the Constitution and provisions of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act. CORD had said the tender awarding was not done in compliance with the amended election law.
The amended election law requires a register of voters that captures the biometric data, which includes finger prints of a voter, hand and earlobe geometry, voice waves and signatures, among other things. CORD lawyer James Orengo said, “The specification for ballot papers, result declaration forms and poll registers as contained in the tender documents are not in conformity with requirements of the electoral laws which establishes electronic voting system.”
There is already another case against the award of the contract to audit the voters’ register to KPMG while the procurement of the election management system was allowed by the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board. “It was unreasonable for IEBC to proceed with the award of tender without taking into account the new regulations,” Justice Odunga ruled.
Philip Mulee contributed to this report