Dar es Salaam. A South African firm, Ms Ren-Form CC, will print ballot papers for the October General Election after winning a Sh14.4 billion tender, The Citizen has learnt.
Reached for comment yesterday, National Electoral Commission (NEC) chairman Semistocles Kaijage neither denied nor confirmed the reports, saying NEC would soon release the name of the firm that won the tender - and the cost of printing the papers.
“We’re putting final touches (to the deal). We’ll release the details vsoon,” Judge Kaijage told The Citizen.
The South African company initially won the tender to print and supply the ballot papers at the contract price of Sh18 billion, but that amount went down after NEC successfully negotiated for reduction.
The company was awarded the tender in May after defeating a Dubai-based firm, Ms Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing LLC, that is also known to have supplied ballot papers for the just-ended Malawi presidential election re-run.
The Citizen could not independently establish whether Ms Ren-Form had previously printed election materials for Tanzanian elections. But it has clients in many countries and has worked with several African governments.
Tender award challenged
Nec advertised the tender on March 9, 2020, after which it attracted three bids After being subjected to four evaluation stages, Al Ghurair was disqualified over what Nec said was its failure to attach litigation records with the tender document as required in the Tender Data Sheet.
Ms Ren-Form CC’s tender was found to be responsive and was recommended for an award of Sh18 billion.
However, following negotiations with Nec that focused on reduction of price vis-a-vis the prevailing market prices, Ren-Form reduced the price to Sh14.4 billion.
Al Ghurair was dissatisfied by the disqualification from the lucrative deal and applied for administrative review of the decision. However, the application was dismissed for having many shortfalls.
Nec re-evaluated the tender - and concluded that Al Ghurair failed to attach a copy of the company’s code of conduct/anti-bribery policy, and the attached power of attorney was defective.
Dissatisfied by the decision of the administrative review, Al Ghurair lodged an appeal with the Public Procurement Appeals Authority (PPAA). At PPAA, the company doubted competence of the evaluators, arguing that the alleged shortfalls of its tender - if there were any at all - ought to have been pointed out during the evaluation.
However, PPAA finally sided with Nec that the appellant failure to indicate its litigation history, which Nec says there were sufficient grounds to disqualify the company.
“The Authority finds the respondent’s act of disqualifying the appellant for failure to attach its declaration of litigation record to be proper.”
PPAA also considered Al Ghurair’s argument that the proposal of award of the tender to Ms Ren-Form CC was not valid due to the drastic change in the contract price.
Ms Ren quoted the price of Sh18 billion at the tender opening while the notice of intention to award indicated the intended contract price was Sh14.4 billion.
“The Authority finds the change in price to be in order, for it was caused by negotiations conducted between Nec and Ren-Form
Section 76 (1) of the Public Procurement Act, read with Regulation 225 (1) (g), allow negotiations of various areas - including reduction of price for tenders.
Kenya paid more
The Citizen has learnt that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of Kenya awarded Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company a Ksh2.5 billion (Sh55 billion) tender to print ballot papers for the 2017 General Election.
Al Ghurair group was in the eye of a storm after landing a $4.6-million (about Sh10 billion) contract to print ballot papers for Malawi’s nullified elections.
Al Ghurair’s contract price was the highest among 13 contenders. They included a South African printer with past Malawian exrience that offered to do the job for $2 million less.
All Ghurair has previously been at the centre of controversies in Zambia, Kenya and Uganda over contracts to print election materials, revolving around claims of excessive prices and the company’s alleged ties with ruling parties.