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Chiloba seeks more time to answer audit queries

By Geoffrey Mosoku | Published Tue, September 11th 2018 at 00:00, Updated September 10th 2018 at 23:19 GMT +3
Ezra Chiloba
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission CEO Ezra Chiloba. [File, Standard]

The suspended chief executive of the electoral agency has been given seven days to answer procurement queries or face the sack.

A letter from Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati to CEO Ezra Chiloba demands answers to queries touching on procurement matters relating to last year's General Election.

Mr Chiloba has asked for more time to respond to the queries.

He noted that the audit took the commission five months to complete, during which he was out of office.

“I am in receipt of your letter dated 29th August 2018 requiring me to respond within seven (7) days to the issues particularised therein emanating from the ‘Internal Audit Report’ on systems control and the ‘Internal Audit Report’ on the procurement for fresh presidential elections; which reports were availed to me on 31st August 2018,” Chiloba’s memo to the chairman reads.

Seven days

The memo, dated September 6, continues: “Given the lengthy period of time the commission has had to compile the said reports, the seven day period afforded to me to respond is inadequate and unconscionable, and therefore would require more time to prepare my response.”

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The CEO also made other demands, including all signed plenary minutes from January last year to date, plenary drafts that resulted in the signed minutes for that period, relevant stores records and annual work plans, and budgets and procurement plans for 2016-17/18 as revised from time to time.

Chiloba further wants Mr Chebukati to furnish him with all minutes for the committees on ICT, election operations, voter education, finance and procurement over the same period.

The internal audit findings touch on almost every official in IEBC's senior management. While the report seeks explanations from staff across the board, including the deputy CEO, it is not clear whether the other officers have received their letters.

“You also note that queries raised touch on matters which are handled by employees of the commission, and to the extent that I am required to respond substantially to the issues I would like to access some of the officers,” Chiloba adds.

The officers include his deputy and now acting chief, Marjan Hussein Marjan, the head of supply chain, Milcah Chebosis, and the head of finance, Osman Hassan. Others were the heads of legal and relevant user departments where required, and members of the tender committee.

Last evening, Chebukati was not available for comment as he was said to be in a meeting. Sources said that on August 31, the audit committee met to adopt the report and made recommendations to have all officials mentioned respond to the queries before the final report was submitted to the plenary.

Jumped the gun

There was concern in some quarters that Chebukati might have jumped the gun by acting on a report that had not been adopted by the internal audit committee since he wrote the show-cause letter on August 29, two days before the team met.

As soon as the letter was released, Chebukati and the two remaining commissioners left the country. This echoed the events of April 6, when Chiloba was sent on compulsory leave.

Some commission staff members have complained that the audit process was not fair to them. An officer who requested anonymity told The Standard he was surprised that he was expected to give answers and yet the auditors did not make the draft report available to the respondents.

“It is unfair for the Chebukati-Chiloba wars to be extended to us. We did our part and the two officials should resolve their differences elsewhere - and alone,” he said.

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