When the troubles of the Former electoral agency CEO Ezra Chiloba started, the agency’s Chairman Wafula Chebukati was hitting him hard! In fact, it is Chebukati who pushed Chiloba out of office! But did that mean that the chair was clean from the troubles at the commission? Well, was he trying to cover his wrongs either?
The sacked IEBC CEO has presented to Parliament damning dossier against chairman Wafula Chebukati, describing his tenure as a “deal-cutting” reign punctuated by personal business interests.
In documents obtained by a local daily from the Public Accounts Committee dated February 19, Chiloba paints his ex-boss as a man who ran a one-man-show at IEBC’s Anniversary Towers, pursuing private business agreements at the expense of the public interest.
Chiloba’s letter requested by PAC addresses three main issues: conflict of interest concerning Cebukati’s law firm Cootow & Associates Advocates, conflict of interest in the procurement of ballot papers and emerging issues in plenary minutes. He attached supporting documentation.
The IEBC, which is functioning minus four commissioners, is in charge or organising general elections, by-elections and referendums and reviewing boundaries.
The PAC has been probing the mess at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission following a special audit by the Auditor General Edward Ouko. This weekend the committee is expected to retreat to compile and write its final report.
Chiloba, who was pushed out of office by Chebukati after months of power struggles, said the chairman left no doubt in every decision that he wanted to control tenders and procurement.
The ex-CEO explained how Chebukati personally fronted a South African printing firm, Ren-form for the contract to print presidential ballot papers at a time when the Al Ghurair Group printing tender award was being challenged in court.
The Sh2.5 billion ballot paper printing deal sparked battles at the commission and pressure from the Opposition, who also wanted the tender annulled.
Chiloba said Chebukati marshalled the majority of commissioners against Al Ghurair during hearing of the case and engineered a commission meeting to deliberate on another firm being awarded the contract.
Immediately after the meeting, Chiloba said, Chebukati summoned him to his office where he pulled a document from under his table and handed it to him.
“I was surprised but did not show it,” Chiloba said in his letter to Opiyo Wandayi’s Public Accounts Committee.
The committee, which has summoned witnesses including Chiloba, Chebukati, current and former commissioners, is nearing the end of its investigation.
Chiloba added that Chebukati told him, “Please take note that we never met.”
“As we were still discussing, Commissioner Roselyn Akombe joined us. I could read from the body language that the two knew about the document,” Chiloba said, appearing to draw Akombe into the tender wars at the IEBC.
He added, “There is no doubt that the proposal by Ren-form was known to Chebukati and (most probably Dr Akombe). Why did they not feel free to have the name of Ren-form discussed at the plenary like all others before the decision was reached? Who requested Ren-form to submit a proposal?” Chiloba asked.
In fact, Chiloba said, immediately after Chebukati gave him the letter, the chairman arranged to have a plenary session on July 17, 2017, to secure a vote that would nullify the Al Ghurair contract.
He said Chebukati later followed up with him on the progress of procuring the presidential ballot papers in what appeared to confirm the chairman wanted Al Ghurair out of the way in favour of Ren-form .
Chiloba said the Court of Appeal decided to uphold the tender award to Al Ghurair, endingChebukati’s plans for Ren-Form.