Nasa co-principals Moses Wetang’ula (left) and Musalia Mudavadi (centre) listen to Siaya Senator James Orengo in Lavington, Nairobi on June 14, 2017. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Nasa wants ballot contract to Dubai company revoked
Nasa has broadened the war over the printing of ballot papers, prompting the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to call a crisis meeting of presidential candidates.
The conflagration began when Nasa principal Musalia Mudavadi claimed that Mr Muhoho Kenyatta, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s younger brother, was the local agent of the company awarded the tender for the printing of ballot papers, Al Ghurair Print and Publishing Company Limited of Dubai.
IEBC has appeared to mishandle the Sh2.5 billion tender, which has been at the courts and at the Public Procurement Tribunal and precipitated the sacking of the procurement manager.
Another Nasa principal, Mr Moses Wetang’ula and Ugenya Senator James Orengo, a confidant of Nasa flagbearer Raila Odinga, challenged the President to come clean on his supposed interest in the company.
FRIEND OF KENYATTA FAMILY
Further, they alleged that Al Ghurair chief executive Aziz Al Ghurair, is a friend of the Kenyatta family.
The leaders said Mr Ghurair is a friend of the Kenyatta family and a frequent guest at the home of the younger Kenyatta.
“We want President Uhuru Kenyatta to come clean on his and his family’s links with the Dubai firm and state his interests in the contract that the firm was awarded.
The interest, in our view, is clear. The President and his Jubilee team are looking for a firm that can supply extra ballots secretly as was the case in 2013,” said Mr Mudavadi.
ADDITIONAL BALLOT PAPERS
They also claimed President Kenyatta had, on two separate occasions, met Mr Ghurair both in Nairobi and in Dubai.
Evidence has since emerged that Mr Ghurair was received at State House Nairobi, as part of a delegation of Dubai businessmen last year.
Challenged by the Nation to provide evidence that Mr Ghurair was a friend of the First Family, the Nasa team would only say that they “received information”.
There is no evidence that additional ballot papers were printed in 2013.
However, as proved by the Smith & Ouzman “chickengate” trial, procurement of election materials is often dirty and accompanied by vicious tender wars, which may have little to do with the integrity of the election per se.
The younger Kenyatta could not be reached for comment while the President and Deputy President William Ruto, speaking in Amogoro in Busia county declared that Jubilee has no interest in who prints the ballot papers and advised Mr Odinga to focus on selling his policies to the electorate and “stop meddling with IEBC”.
On Wednesday, the Nasa leaders demanded the cancellation of the tender and its award to another company “whose credibility is not in question”.
“Let IEBC not tell us that we are running out of time. The country has in the past always conducted nominations three weeks to voting day and this has always been sufficient time for printing of ballot papers to be completed,” said Mr Mudavadi.
MET IEBC OFFICIALS
Nasa leaders told the Nation that Mr Odinga and Mr Wetangu’la met IEBC officials where they complained of the alleged links between the Dubai firm and the First Family.
In response, the Nasa leaders said, IEBC told them they were considering three firms.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chairman Wafula Chebukati (centre), CEO Ezra Chiloba (right) and Commissioner Roselyne Akombe (left) confer during press conference on June 14, 2017. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
“How they chose this Dubai firm leaves a lot of questions,” said one of the Nasa leaders, who did not wish to be quoted discussing a private meeting.
From the discussions, it was clear that the Nasa leaders did not have in their possession a copy of an agency agreement between Al Ghurair and the younger Kenyatta or any other Kenyan entity.
Nasa leaders challenged the credentials of the Dubai printing company, saying it is not experienced in supplying ballot papers to democracies.
“Al Ghurair, although being a multi-billion dollar outfit, has not been involved in the supply of election materials in established democracies.
Their portfolios include engagements in countries like Afghanistan and Libya.
Elsewhere, in Zambia and Uganda, they have ended their engagement under dark clouds of acrimony and dissatisfaction.
They have a reputation as a user friendly supplier of election materials to incumbent governments. Influence peddling is part of their tools of trade,” said Mr Mudavadi.
The Nasa team also named the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chief executive officer Ezra Chiloba and Elections and Voter Registration director Immaculate Kassait as having been invited to State House last February to meet Mr Aziz.
“We have established that President Kenyatta summoned the IEBC CEO to the State House meeting where Mr Aziz was present as head of a Dubai business delegation. Mrs Kassait, for her part, is clouded in numerous integrity issues. She reports on a weekly basis to State House where she gives status updates to Head of Public Service and Chief of Staff Joseph Kinyua,” said Mr Mudavadi.
Muhoho Kenyatta at a past event last year. Nasa principal Musalia Mudavadi claimed that he is the local agent of Ghurair Print and Publishing Company Limited of Dubai. PHOTO | FILE NATION MEDIA GROUP
While Mr Chiloba could not be reached by phone, Ms Kassait said the commission will respond on their behalf.
“The commission will issue a statement on the same,” she said in a text message.
“Mrs Kassait is also a member of a Jubilee-leaning organisation known as the Mt Kenya Foundation which operates from the Parklands area.
SHROUDED IN MYSTERY
The activities of this foundation are shrouded in mystery.
The offices of this organisation are accessed only by President Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, Mrs Winnie Guchu, Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, businessman Chris Kirubi, former Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir and former Chief of General Staff Joseph Karangi,” said Mr Mudavadi.
Mt Kenya Foundation is a grouping of (mainly wealthy and influential) individuals from the Mt Kenya region, whose aim appears to be to advance the business and political interests of the region.
It will take subsequent fact checking to establish whether the individuals named by Mr Mudavadi are members of that organisation and whether it is involved in the election.
At the IEBC offices in Anniversary Towers, commission chairman Wafula Chebukati said today’s meeting will help address all the concerns raised by various stakeholders led by Mr Odinga over the integrity of the process used to procure the tender.
The commission also plans to take representatives of all the presidential candidates and other stakeholders to Dubai later this month to witness the printing of the ballot papers.
Mr Chebukati expressed concern that the “narrative dangerously” derails the commission from executing its mandate to conduct the August election but maintained that the preparation of ballot material through Al Ghurair remained on course.
He argued that IEBC undertook due diligence, which confirmed that Al Ghurair was qualified to undertake the printing of ballot papers.
The commission, according to Mr Chebukati, considered the fact that Al Ghurair had allocated 50 per cent of its machines to the printing of the 130 million ballot papers with adequate back-ups.
Al Ghurair also had a suitable emergency production, packaging and delivery plan and had also fully deployed experienced and qualified personnel to undertake the printing.
The fact that Dubai has four direct flights to Kenya daily made shipping of the ballot papers easier.
Source: Daily Nation