Preparation of the ballot materials for the August presidential poll by the Dubai based Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing LLC firm has commenced despite mounting political opposition by the national Super Alliance (Nasa).
Chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (Iebc) Wafula Chebukati said a section of politicians is dangerously driving a narrative around the procurement to put the electoral process in jeopardy.
However, in order to instil confidence, the commission has invited representatives of the eight presidential candidates for a monitoring delegation to Dubai on June 22, 2017 to verify quantity of the desired quantity of ballot papers has been printed.
“To address the concerns raised by a section of the political leadership, and in order to enhance accountability and transparency in the ballot paper production process, the commission has resolved to invite stakeholders to accompany and monitor the production of the ballot papers in Dubai. This is part of our continued efforts to build confidence in the wider electoral process.” Chebukati said.
The monitoring delegation will witness destruction of test run prints during calibration and handover the pallet6s to the cargo agent by Al Ghurair to address fears of excess printing of ballot materials as claimed by the Nasa coalition.
Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga claimed Jubilee’s top leaders and Al Ghurair have had previous links and unsubstantiated meetings a position Iebc dismissed as strange.
Al Ghurair was awarded the Sh2.5billion contract to print 130million ballot materials through single sourcing following a series of court cases.
The decision to award the contract to the Dubai based firm was arrived before the new team of commissioners came into office and have since upheld the decision.
However, although the Nasa brigade has raised concerns of claimed the firm’s association with top officials in the Jubilee administration, its capacity to undertake the exercise has never come to the fore.
Today, the commission hold a round table discussion with all the presidential candidates or their representatives over the key issues raised surrounding the election preparedness by the electoral body.
The delegation will comprise of one representative of each of the eight presidential candidates, one from the civil society, three from the media and one representative from the Inter-religious Council and the Kenya Bureau of Standards respectively.
They will be required to witness and confirm in writing the completion of several key production, verify in writing that the desired quantity of the ballot papers has been printed, stitched and packaged into pallets.
Iebc Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba denied any knowledge of the alleged Al Ghurair representatives with President Uhuru Kenyatta or the commission.
Chiloba also said out of the 2o by elections held since 2014, all the printing was done by Al Ghurair and no complaint has ever been raised.
Chebukati said Al Ghurair has modern machines and 50 per cent of the machines have been allocated to production of ballot papers with adequate back-ups.
In undertaking the due diligence, the commission certified the firm has suitable production and packaging delivery plans with four direct flights daily by two major airlines to Kenya which makes shipping easier.
“We are concerned with the growing political rhetoric in the country which is contradictory with the ongoing national Elections Conference with the theme of ‘working together towards a credible and peaceful 2017 election’. I welcome all of us to abide by the spirit of the national conference.” Chebukati said.