BY DOMINIC WABALA, 15 AUGUST 2013
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chief Executive Officer James Oswago has revealed the “acrimonious” working relationship between the commission’s Director for ICT and representatives of the company that was awarded the tender to supply election equipment.
Oswago’s statement to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission that is probing the pre-election procurement process at IEBC delves into the behind the scenes intrigues that surrounded the delayed procurement of the equipment, the change of specification for the kits and why they failed to perform as expected.
Oswago said this bad blood between the ICT director Dismas Ong’ondi and employees of Face Technologies (Facestec) caused a delay in the delivery of the kits which arrived a month before the election day.
“The director ICT raised most of the issues which had already been answered by Face Technologies. I may add that the relationship between Dismas and Face was sour/antagonistic for some reasons I never understood. The issues he was raising were relevant, but it was his duty to fully engage and provide a solution e.g. the CEO had to get personally engaged in the effort to get Face to deliver the EVID fully configured and load the final BVR Register per polling station at Kasarani, a function which would have been done by the Director himself and I later delegated that to be headed by Shollei/ICT managers,” Oswago said.
The CEO attributed the delay to request by the Directorate of ICT late changes of data without prior notification. “I stated that Face too are frustrated by poor response on critical issues from ICT Directorate and I had seen evidence of it as in the exchange of several emails between Dismas and Face Technologies in which Face lists clear instances of promises made but not fulfilled by ICT, late changes to the data on file without prior notification forcing Face team to redo some work afresh, areas where in correct data was sent to Face Technologies. Finally the Director ICT was never involved at all in the setting up of the EVID data processing centre at Kasarani Sports Complex,” Oswago says in his statement.
The CEO also blamed the failure of the Electronic Voter Identification Devices (EVIDs) during the March 4 2013 election on human error owing to inadequate training of poll clerks.
“The gadgets did not fail- human error resulting from insufficient training caused the problem. I can state that the EVID equipment hand held or laptop worked very well in all cases where charging issue was addressed. Indeed, in elections for CAW conducted in Kuria EAST AND Samburu, three week after the March 4th polls, the EVID worked perfectly well,” Oswago said.
The IEBC CEO said that the delivery of the kits was delay for over 30 days because a complaint had been lodged at the Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA) challenging the award of the tender to Face Technologies while the ICT director constantly faulted any efforts by the South African company as they tried to deliver on time.
Oswago said that he delegated the EVID project to the IEBC Deputy Commissioner Secretary-Support Services Wilson Shollei and was not involved in some of the communication between Face Technology and IEBC.
The IEBC CEO told the investigators in his statement on June 28 2013 at 9:30am that on December 5 2012, he received a memo from Deputy Commission Secretary Support Services Wilson Shollei requesting him to authorize transfer of US $ 16,651,139 (Sh1.4 billion) to the Commission’s Kenya Commercial Bank account No. 1117602532 University way branch to complete the contractual obligation with Face Technology.
“I am aware that on December 05, 2012 the DCS-Support Services, Mr Wilson Shollei wrote a memo to me requesting for authority to transfer funds amounting USD 16,651,139.3 to the Commission account No. 1117602532 at KCB University Way. The Commission was in the process of entering a contract with Face Technologies to supply EVID and the contract required irrevocable letter of credit. Subsequently, I gave the approval on December 05, 2012 partly because I had earlier assigned Shollei responsibility to manage EVID procurement and implementation and partly because I had received verbal briefs from him that the vendor had specifically asked for an LC in the contract. This information was also included in the memo. I can see on the memo produced before me here today, Shollei gave instruction for voucher preparation to the Director manager Finance on 10th December and he has signed for the accounting officer. I am seeing this for the first time,” Oswago said in his statement.
He also denies being aware of the US$ 15 per kit for some rubber protection which is tax exempt yet the other items are taxable.