By Juma Kwayera
The manner the Cabinet settled on Canadian firm Code Inc to supply biometric voter registration equipment raises fresh questions about the transparency of the process following further revelations that the firm is under liquidation.
The unanswered questions about the financial viability of the firm puts the Cabinet on the spot after it settled on the company without doing due diligence to establish its financial health.
Consequently, Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa told The Standard the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission will no longer handle the procurement despite protests of the State encroaching on its independence.
Possible financial fiddling and underhand dealings forced the Government to wrest the tendering process from IEBC, which had apparently become steeped in vested interests, according to Wamalwa.
The hurry with which the Cabinet went for Code Inc raises further questions about previous attempts by it chief executive Gordon Sinclair, to gate-crash the contract by grafting Code Inc onto Symphony, after being informed by a former commissioner with the defunct I IEBC that the latter was on the verge of landing the lucrative tender.
Wamalwa admits the failure by Issack Hassan’s commission raised questions of credibility.
“The Government has taken over the process to insulate the institution against allegation of corruption. We are going to do a MoU with the Government of Canada outlining specifications for the equipment we want. We are not going to deal with Code Inc. We’ll leave it to the Canadian government to source the equipment and deliver it to us,” says the Justice minister.
Correspondence in our possession show the selection of Code Inc was predetermined as the IEBC is portrayed in emails as wilfully going to bed with a Canadian firm that it hired for the pilot stage of electronic voting and voter registration in 18 constituencies.
An email dispatched by Sinclair to Symphony chief executive Rajender Singh Sachdeva suggests high stakes manoeuvres to bend the procurement process to allow the winner to subcontract multiple firms to execute the tender. Housing minister Soita Shitanda, who attended the meeting chaired by President Kibaki, blames the IEBC for transacting business under the table.
“The Cabinet took advantage of a provision in the procurement law that permits single sourcing. This was intended to speed up the procurement of the biometric voter register (BVR). Had it been a government-to-government process, it would be incumbent upon Canadian the Government to conduct a due diligence,” says Mr Shitanda.