Smartmatic International, a technology company that was contracted by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to supply the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (KIEMS) kits in the 2022 General Election, applied to register its trademark locally.
Reports indicated that the subsequent approval of the trademark bid as captured by the Kenya Industrial Property Institute ruffled political feathers with Azimio leadership seeing it as a sinister move.
According to the opposition, the government was keen on ensuring that the company continues to supply the technology materials in the 2027 General Election.
A sample of the tech-based equipment from Smartmatic International.
Smartmatic International The Azimio wing claimed that the Kenya Kwanza administration sought to influence the outcome of 2027 polls and keep President William Ruto in power.
“This company has been mentioned adversely and you know if elections are not free and fair, it has the potential of causing instability in the country.
This company faced accusations and allegations of rigging the last election. So even if they decide to register in the country, I don’t think they should be allowed to participate in any polls,” former Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya pointed out.
ODM chairman, John Mbadi echoed Oparanya’s sentiments, arguing that the company should exit the Kenyan market.
“It is evident that if they have registered their trademark, they would want to continue operations locally. We wonder what other business they would want to be involved in other than the obvious one, which is the election.
“The best thing for them to do is to quit the Kenyan market, especially on matters elections. They can try their luck elsewhere,” he noted.
In a rejoinder, IEBC CEO Hussein Marjan, however, revealed that Smartmatic had an existing contract with IEBC that would run until November 2024.
On the other hand, Kenya Kwanza legislators affirmed that Smartmatic’s presence would not interfere with the elections as they would be provided with a fair chance to bid for electoral tenders.
“So long as they follow the procurement law, why should they be denied the opportunity to continue with their exceptional job,” Nandi Senator Samson Charargei informed the media.
Smartmatic was on the spot for security issues regarding their technology used in the 2022 polls.
The Dutch firm declined to open the National Tallying Centre servers citing security issues.
“As per your request regarding the provision of image of NTC server(s), we would like to clarify taht such images contain software owned and copyrighted by Smartmatic and is thus IP protected. Providing full access would infringe our intellectual property rights,” read part of a letter to parties in the 2022 Presidential petition.
IEBC CEO Hussein Marjan appearing before National Assembly Public Accounts Committee on Monday, March 13, 2023.