MPs want President clarification on surveillance with Safaricom
03 June 2014, 16:10
Nairobi – A section of MPs from the Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Communication have called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to shed more light on the reasons for entrusting Safaricom, a private entity, with national security in the awarded KES 15 billion surveillance project.
The three Committee members led by Suba MP, John Mbadi said national security should be managed by the responsible government ministry and department to overcome any emerging challenge of leaking it out by some of the employees working in the awarded private company.
“Recently, the ICT Cabinet Secretary, Fred Mataiang’i raised concern that the US was intruding into the President’s phone calls. How sure is the nation to entrust Safaricom to properly manage national security through the awarded KES 15 billion surveillance project?” posed Mbadi.
“National security is a sensitive issue which should be managed by the ICT ministry than Safaricom whose license of operation has so far been delayed to improve its services. The ICT cabinet secretary has not talked about the system, which is clear he is not aware of legality regarding the procurement of the project,” he added.
He also raised concern over the manner the tendering is being done noting that the proposed system is being single-sourced through direct procurement from Safaricom which contravenes the constitution’s Clause 73 and 74 of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2005, that clearly outlines circumstances where restricted or direct tendering applies.
Mbadi further questioned who the real owners of the proposed system are, and asked whether other national security agencies are involved in the conceptualization of the system.
Moreover, the Suba MP wanted the President to clearly explain who will be in charge of the system’s copyright, who to own the communication equipment, the extent Safaricom will be involved in the project, how the KES 15 billion tendering cost was arrived at without competitive bidding, what safeguards have been put in place to prevent loss of public funds like in the Anglo-leasing saga among other procurement issues.
Rarieda MP, Nicholas Gumbo said they are not against the security system, but that they instead want legality in the procurement to be followed for surety in the success of the project.
“We don’t oppose the proposed security infrastructure but support in full terms if it is done properly to evade future failure. The truth is that anyone including a qualified spy or a terrorist can be Safaricom’s employee hence leaking out the country’s security,” said Gumbo.
“As representatives of the people, it would amount to serious dereliction of duty on our part if this system was to be implemented before questions in the procurement process are satisfactorily addressed. We will be engaging the key players in this proposed system soon with a view of getting comprehensive answers to the tendering questions,” he added.
The Energy and Communication Committee members held that if the President Kenyatta won’t address their raised concerns regarding the procurement then they will take political responsibility against him for failure of the project in addition to the Constitution’s Chapter 12 on mismanagement of public finance.
Also present at the press conference at Parliament Buildings was Mwala MP, Hon. Vincent Musyoka who recommended that from his engineering profession, Safaricom should not be fully entrusted with the project without adhering to the laid down procurement process.
Musyoka said the government should take full charge of the country’s security management than award it to a private company.
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