By Martin Mutua and Vitalis Kimutai
Leaders fighting to succeed President Kibaki have stepped into the raging debate around the Sh3.9 billion electronic voting tender row that has brought Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission into sharp focus.
They want IEBC chairman Issack Hassan and his team to resolve the controversy sparked by the shift in awarding Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits tender to away from lowest bidder, speedily, efficiently, and professionally.
They are also asking the electoral team to do all it can to ensure the tender process does not trigger unnecessary tension and anxiety, as this was bound to send the wrong signals to voters.
This is particularly so because the controversy has the potential of eroding the confidence Kenyans placed on defunct Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) and IEBC, after the dip in trust on integrity of voting following the mess Samuel Kivuitu’s Electoral Commission made of 2007 General Election.
IEBC is grappling with claims the tender, over which one internal committee has resigned in protest, could have been infiltrated by partisan interests, and even extortionists in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
There have also been an unverified claims that the company that bid the second lowest, Symphony, could have links to a powerful political activist, and that the Indian firm that bid the lowest lost because Foreign ministry officials falsely reportedly it had been blacklisted back home after its management declined to pay a Sh30million bribe for a clean report.
The delay in awarding the tender has also had a ripple effect as to when IEBC could start voter registration, and civic education. The delays have the potential to undermine election timelines, and overall planning.
Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, who spoke through his aide, Kaplich Barsito, said Kenyans were keenly watching the unfolding scenario.
“ IEBC must do everything within its powers to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt, it has the capacity to conduct free and fair polls because that is the first step towards successful elections,” said Kalonzo.
The VP added: “Every Kenyan is watching every move by the IEBC hoping that they will conduct credible elections.” He said the electoral body should stick to procedure in resolving the tender row.
Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi said there should be no favouritism in the tendering, and IEBC should stick to the law.