Cash Squabbles Delay Voter Registration Kit in Kenya
Voter registration in Kenya has been postponed by two weeks after the French company contracted to supply 15,000 biometric registration kits demanded to be paid a balance of Sh3.6 billion before it can deliver them for the March 4 election. Read (Voter kits due on October 8, says IEBC)
The registration was scheduled for November 1 to 30, but will now take place between November 12 and December 11, according to a circular seen by the Nation.
Safran Morpho of France was expected to deliver the first tranche of 5,000 kits on Friday, but sources at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said it was demanding full payment for the Sh6 billion deal before starting production.
The IEBC paid a deposit of Sh2.4 billion when Kenya and Canada governments awarded the tender to the company in a bilateral deal financed through the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC).
The two governments were to conclude negotiations four days ago to enable the bank release the money.
“The contract was signed and we expected everything to move because time is of essence. If there is any delay, we will need to know who is responsible,” said Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Eugene Wamalwa.
IEBC chief executive officer James Oswago asked the government to conclude the negotiations lest the election cycle is disrupted.
“There is a delay and we are urging the government to conclude the government to government negotiations or pay the balance to the Canadian Commercial Corporation for Morpho to deliver the kits,” he said.
Before the contract was signed, the government gave Safran Morpho a written commitment to pay for the kits.
On Thursday, efforts to reach Finance permanent secretary Joseph Kinyua and his top team that led the negotiations failed since they were in Arusha attending a regional meeting.
The delay has sparked debate over the preparedness of the IEBC to conduct the elections.
Mr Wamalwa asked the commission to give weekly updates to shore up public confidence in its ability to conduct free, fair and transparent elections.
“We want the IEBC to lay everything on the table so that Kenyans know where they are. Now that the chairman (Ahmed Issack Hassan) is back, we expect a major event next week. The commission needs to come up with weekly briefing so that they can give the public confidence in their preparations,” he said.
But Mr Oswago said everything was on track.
“One kit is capable of registering 50 people per day so in 30 days, we are capable of registering up to 22.5 million voters,” said the Mr Oswago.
“We have worked out our plans well and be sure we will deliver. However, I cannot give you details,” he said.
Meanwhile, training of staff started yesterday at the Utalii College in Nairobi beginning with national level staff.
They will be followed by regional officers on Friday next week in Kisumu, Nakuru, Thika, Embu and Mombasa.
Employees at the district level will be trained between November 2 and 5, and clerks from November 7 to 9. Some 30,000 clerks have been hired for the registration exercise.
Mr Oswago said the commission had recruited two ICT experts from the International Foundation of Electoral Systems (IFES) and a Kenya working with the Independent National Electoral Commission in Nigeria.
In a letter dates October 12, 2012 to Mr Hassan, Mr Oswago says: “You are aware of Mr Nyimbi Odera, a Kenyan who is a consultant with INEC, Nigeria. I am inviting Nyimbi for a period of six months to come and help us.”
Mr Odera is expected to put in place logistics for uninterrupted transmission of electronic results and advise the commission on the type of equipment require at the county level.
System integration firm LanTech has been contracted to link counties offices to the IEBC headquarters.
Source: Daily Nation