Honorary Vice President of IMANI Africa, Bright Simons, has lifted the lid off secret actions that the Electoral Commission, led by Jean Mensah, has been taking to force in place the compilation of a new voters register.
Among revelations, is the fact that Jean Mensah and her henchmen have deliberately tiptoed around procurement laws to ensure that a tendering process for companies was conducted to favor the EC’s own cherry-picked company – STL.
On Accra-based Joy FM’s Newsfile program, Saturday, Mr. Simons reveals that The EC never publicised the Expression of Interest and Request for Proposals so that companies in the public would be given the opportunity to apply as required by the Public Procurement Law.
According Mr. Simmons, the required publication neither happened on the EC’s website nor. Consequently, no details about the bidders or the evaluation results were made known to the public, months after the process had been concluded.
Mr. Simmons points out that the EC has still not done so and its website has been down for almost a week, while there has not been a press release about any of this.
Even though the EC had made it look like it was conducting “stakeholder consultations” to build consensus towards procuring a new solution soon, Bright Simons revealed that not only had the EC taken the decision nearly a year ago but that it had already finished a tender 8 months ago and was just about to award the contract when the controversy broke.
Essentially therefore, when Jean Mensah said she was building public consensus towards the compilation of a new register, she was only looking for public validation for a decision that she and her cohorts had long made in secret.
Bright Simmons also disputed the EC position that the biometric system already in place has come to the end of its service life cycle, revealing that the EC has long been buying equipment and software to update the existing system and therefore it could not be true that the system is archaic.
According to him, the EC has spent millions buying new equipment since 2011 and that for the 2016 elections 72,000 BVDs were freshly upgraded and purchased. Some $7.2 million was also spent on BVRs and other systems. VSATs and VMS solutions have been bought intermittently as late as 2017.
Mr. Simmons also disputed the EC’s argument that the cost of buying a new system is lower than the cost of upgrading the existing system, saying this view is just the EC’s speculation. He points out that the EC has never issued a formal Request for Quotations to augment the parts of the existing system that really needs upgrades and is based on the assumption that all the existing equipment has to be replaced by STL.
The IMANI boss showed that only a part of the system needs fresh equipment and that these could be acquired for far cheaper than the $5145 per BVR and $917 per BVD claimed by the EC.
He also dismissed impression created by the EC that “facial recognition technology” is a completely new system that it wants to introduced, insisting that there are two levels of that technology – manual and automatic, and that the current system already had manual facial recognition technology in place, as is the case in most countries with a biometric voter system.
Bright Simmons also discounted the arguments by the EC about the impossibility of transferring the already existing biometric data to a new system, saying a technology called WSQ can easily be used to reconstruct data from the EC’s image archives