The statement by Energy Minister Christopher Yaluma suggesting that government did not pay US$500 million but instead paid $260million is rather confusing, perhaps deliberately so.
It is not clear if we are discussing the same contract or not, but if we are, then something has gone very wrong. Information has been manipulated and we are concerned that much more may in fact be changed before the truth is exposed.
Speaking during question time in Parliament yesterday the Minister suggested that Government did not purchase overpriced fuel at US$500million, but that it actually paid US $260million. He did not give any details
If the Minister was referring to the same Trafigura contract that we have been asking about, then something has gone very wrong, meriting immediate and very urgent attention, preferably by an independent institution since, the Anti Corruption Commission, Auditor General and indeed Police fraud Squad have all failed to investigate the scam.
In September last year Energy Permanent secretary George Zulu announced that Government had signed a one year US$500 million contract with Netherland’s multinational commodity trader, Trafigura, for the supply of 216 million liters of Petrol and 21 liters of Diesel.
Clearly aware of public apprehension, Mr. Zulu added that the award was made after investigative wings had cleared Trafigura from allegations of impropriety.
Mr. Zulu made the announcement in the full glare of the media soon after the signing ceremony at which Trafigura – Puma Energy’s parent company, was given to supply finished petroleum products.
Even as he addressed the press Mr. Zulu had to emphasize that the award was made through a very transparent process.
We sought and obtained assurance from Mr. Zulu that the US$500million was for the consignment, whose price , he said would be subsidized in order to ensure that the fuel was affordable.
Questions however began to emerge as the difference between the purchase price and subsequent price adjustment indicated a clear mismatch which could not be explained.
The question arose because the Government paid US$2.11 or Kr11 per litre, but the Government was selling the fuel at a loss at Kr8 before the price was increased to Kr9 which was still below the K11 paid to Trafigura.
Even with the new price the Government was still selling at a loss.
At this stage stake holders started raising questions why the Government chose to purchase very expensive oil for which public funds have been abused to the extent of well over US$250million or K1,350,000,000.
An explanation for this discrepancy has to be given to the Zambian people. It will not do to suggest that the entire Permanent Secretary was hallucinating when he announced that a US$500million oil procurement contract had been awarded to Trafigura.It is totally untenable for the Zambian people to be put in a position where they must determine whether the Permanent Secretary who spoke after a signing ceremony was lying or whether indeed the Minister was not being forthright.The question has always been why we paid US$2.11 for oil that was basically worth US$1.45 inclusive of transport, taxes and various importation related costs.