The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has ruled out compensating a Dubai-based firm for the Sh2.5 billion ballot paper printing tender that the High Court cancelled, setting the stage for another court battle with the company.
IEBC chairman Wanyonyi Chebukati said the polls agency will not reimburse Al Ghurair for costs incurred in pursuit of the botched tender.
“We are not going to compensate anyone here. The Dubai firm has weak grounds to seek compensation,” he told the Business Daily in a phone interview on Tuesday.
The Dubai firm was awarded the Sh2.5 billion tender in October 18, but the court on February 13 cancelled the contract on grounds that its procurement was irregular.
While lawyers reckon that the IEBC is bound to compensate the Dubai firm because it had inked the contract, the poll agency said it will fight a bid to pay Al Ghurair.
The IEBC opted to seek a new firm to print ballot papers and not appeal the court verdict that cancelled it, avoiding the risk of relying on the courts to set the elections timetable five months to the August 8 polls.
According to the contract terms, the Dubai company was to supply and deliver 130 million ballot papers within 21 days after the window for political parties to nominate their candidates for various elective positions closes on May 8 – three months to the General Election.
This means the company was to deliver the ballot papers by May 28.
The IEBC now has three months to shepherd the selection of the new firm and ponder how to deal with the Dubai firm.
Lawyers said the IEBC would be required to compensate the Dubai firm if a contract had been signed.
“If they had awarded the tender to the company but not signed the contract, then there will be no compensation because termination is provided for in the Public Procurement Act,” said advocate Jacqueline Munyaka.
The IEBC confirmed a contract had been signed with Al Ghurair, exposing taxpayers to losses.
Compensation will place the IEBC chiefs on the spotlight because the Constitution directs that public servants who cause loss of taxpayers’ money through irregularities are personally liable for loss of the funds.
The High Court said the IEBC did not follow new election regulations while procuring the ballot papers, placing the blame on top officials at the poll agency. On Monday, the polls cancelled the ongoing procurement of digital elections platform.