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IEBC headache of picking printer for ballot papers

By Geoffrey Mosoku | Updated Wed, May 31st 2017 at 00:00 GMT +3
IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is rushing to pick a supplier for ballot papers.

With less than 70 days to the General Election, the electoral agency has yet to choose a suitable supplier for the materials after two previous false starts.

Although the commission has resorted to direct procurement, it has yet to identify the firm to award the Sh2.5 billion deal after the High Court gave the go-ahead to start the process.

On Monday evening, the commission held a plenary meeting during which several issues, among them how to handle the issue, was deliberated. The contract is supposed to be signed in two weeks.

The commission reviewed the two proposals that had been brought to the table, one prepared by internal managers and another by external consultants.

The commission has a deadline of June 21 to gazette the names of all nominated candidates for the six elective seats, finalise all processes, and sign a contract to enable it to order the printing of ballot papers.

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Some insiders are said to be in favour of awarding the deal to Al Ghurair in spite of the integrity issues that have been raised about the company, both internally and externally by political players.

"Whichever way we go, there will be noise. As an agency, we must bite the bullet and make a decision on the way forward and deal with the backlash later," a senior IEBC member said, adding that there were strong voices, especially among the commissioners, that favour going the Dubai way.

The second report gravitates around splitting the tender by mandating an international firm to print the presidential ballot papers while the rest can be printed locally.

Those of this school of thought argue that due to the sensitivity of the presidential vote, printing the ballots in a foreign country would ensure the security and integrity of the exercise, while awarding the rest of the ballots to a local firm would help build the capacity of local printers.

Other than Al Ghurair, the other firms that are being considered include Kenya's Ellams Products, Tall Security Printing and G.I Solutions, both of UK, and South Africa's Unprint Limited.

G.I Soluions has done elections in Nigeria and Togo, Tall Security and Al Ghurair did partial elections in Uganda, and Uniprint has printed papers for municipal elections in South Africa.

Both IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati and CEO Ezra Chiloba were not available to comment on the matter as they were said to be in meetings all day long.

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