It is gratifying that Mazabuka member of parliament Garry Nkombo has decided to pursue the corrupt oil procurement scheme that has afflicted Zambia to its logical conclusion.
We have tried as a newspaper to obtain information regarding the manner in which a company that was placed fifth on the ranking list was awarded the contract to supply oil to this country.
By all accounts the supply of 237 litres of fuel at US$500 million was corrupt and an extreme abuse of authority by whoever decided to make the award.
The situation has not been helped by remarks made by the Minister of Energy Mr. Yaluma suggesting that government did not in fact pay US$500 million but paid US$260 million. To date the permanent secretary, George Zulu has not denied the statement he made in 2012 announcing that government had entered into a one year contract with Trafigura to supply 237 liters of fuel to Zambia at a cost of US$500. This statement has never been denied or corrected by anyone in government. It was not until the Minister spoke in parliament that a new figure of US$260 million was floated.
In essence therefore it can be rightly assumed that the government paid US$ 500 million.
Until and unless investigations and the perusal of tender documents if any indicate otherwise we can assume that the initial story by the permanent secretary is correct. Therefore somebody has benefitted unfairly by making Zambians, many of them poor, subsidise corruption.
It is unfortunate that the Anti-Corruption Commission which should have been seized with this matter has not only reneged but has in fact betrayed its own cause and the people of Zambia by failing to investigate this very clear abuse of authority.
We therefore commend Honourable Nkombo who has now taken up the task to unearth this matter and we hope he will have the cooperation of all the various figures involved including Zambia Public Procurement Authority which we understand was frustrated out of supervising the oil procurement tender.
There is need to identify the authority which finally signed the contract if it was not the appropriate procurement agency.
We hope that the Member of Parliament by virtue of being a law maker will be able to access the primary data involved in this procurement as we have now been told that some documents have been trashed or deliberately misplaced to frustrate any effort at getting to the truth.
We stand ready as a newspaper to support the effort by the member of the parliament and we too are interested in getting to the bottom of this matter to understand how the government paid more than $2 per litre of oil which at wholesale price costs .70cents.