PAC warns French firm against snub

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French firm IDEMIA, formerly OT Morpho, risks losing the Sh3 billion identity data deal for snubbing MPs.

The legislators are investigating how the company directly got the Sh4.19 billion restricted tender to supply the 45,000 KIEMS kits used in the last general election.

Yesterday, its top directors failed to appear before the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee.

Committee members had communicated to the directors through a registered mail and a follow-up invite on email. The firm did not respond. It has rebranded itself as IDEMIA.

The enraged lawmakers threatened to lock out the firm from any dealing with any public institutions in the country if it fails again to appear before them. PAC issued another summons to the company to appear before it next Monday.

See also: Safran Morpho sues Kalonzo, Raila, Weta and Mudavadi

The biometrics and digital giant is said to be one of the bidders for the lucrative tender for digital registration system that will create a national population register.

Other companies said to have bid for the same tender include Coppernic and Credence ID.

“We have enough teeth and that will be demonstrated when writing our report. They will have to appear on February 18. If they fail, we’ll surely pronounce ourselves on them,” PAC chairman Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) said.

Rarieda MP Otiendo Amollo, a member of the oversight committee, said the company had acted in contempt and urged the committee to consider blacklisting it.

“This is an instance of an open defiance by the firm on public accountability. We should consider imposing fine against them, but that fine is also not enough. They should be barred from doing business in the country,” he said.

“They cannot be readily available when signing contracts but remain shadowy when asked to account for their dealings.”

Wandayi said the committee will on Monday declare the way forward should the directors fail to attend.

IEBC documents show a divided commission when the Sh4 billion tender was being awarded to the French firm. A plenary held at the commission’s boardroom on March 31, 2017 ended in a split, with four commissioners voting to have OT-Morpho supply the kits. They beat their rival camp by a vote.

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati voted alongside commissioners Consolata Nkatha, Roselyne Akombe and Margaret Mwachanya to approve the OT-Morpho deal. Commissioners Boya Molu, Paul Kurgat and Abdi Guliye opposed the idea, which was being pushed by the secretariat, according to records of the plenary tabled before MPs.

Kurgat’s team argued the deal did not offer value for money. They opposed IEBC secretariat’s evaluation report.

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