State House in fertilizer scam

Senior civil servants have distanced themselves from the irregular procurement of 42,000 metric tonnes of Urea fertliser from a Chinese company in which State House has been named.

The nation, they feel was better placed to purchase and distribute the large quantities of fertilizer already available in the country than to attempt to import from China at this late hour.

A Chinese company, Shanxi Jincheng Anthracite Mining Group International Trading Co.Ltd has been single sourced to supply another 42,000 metric tonnes of Prilled Urea fertilizer apart from what is being sourced from Saudi Arabia and State House has been linked to the scandal.

.The Chinese company has been single sourced contrary to procurement procedure

.The 42,000 metric tonnes has been procured late.

.The Port is currently congested

.There is also congestion at TAZARA which has been crippled

.Lack of authorization from ZPPA

.Lack of endorsement of agreement by the Attorney General

A directive to single source and procure fertliser which seems to have been made by President Sata has left many civil servants including the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) into quandary because the feat is legally and logistically unattainable.

The officers say it is practically impossible to move the fertilizer from China through Dare es laam in this short period of time, the Port is congested with more than 100,000 metric tonnes distained for Zambia while the Port of Beira in Mozambique has not been explored although Agriculture Minister Robert Sichinga has directed that the Indian Ocean Port be tried.

They complained that these various stakeholders including technocrats in the Ministry of Agriculture and ZPPA had been resisting the single sourcing of the Chinese company because they strongly believed and felt that procurement procedure had been breached.

The civil servants and technocrats both at the Ministry of Agriculture and ZPPA have disclosed that the purchasing process was devoid of the laid down procurement standards and they have decided to disassociate themselves from the scandal.

And President Michael Sata has been challenged to state clearly what role he played in the single sourcing of a Chinese company Shanxi Jincheng Anthracite Mining Group International Trading Co.Ltd to exclusively supply 42,000 metric tonnes of Prilled Urea fertiliser.

People’s Party (PP) president Mike Mungoloti has said it was heartening that the fertiliser scandal in which President Sata has been mentioned had precisely coincided with his address to the nation on the evils of corruption on the eve of Anti Corruption Week.

Mulongoti told the Daily Nation yesterday that it was important for President Sata to quickly clear his name in the fertiliser scandal because his silence on the matter would easily be construed that the Head of State had actively participated in the deal that was devoid of good corporate governance.

Yesterday, the Daily Nation reported that a Chinese company, Shanxi Jincheng Anthracite Mining Group International Trading Co.Ltd had been single sourced to supply another 42,000 metric tonnes of Prilled Urea fertilizer apart from what is being sourced from Saudi Arabia and State House has been linked to the scandal.

The new scandal follows hot on the heels of the Saudi Arabian fertilizer purchase which the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is reportedly investigating.

According to documents obtained by the Daily Nation, President Sata had directed that the Chinese company, Shanxi Jincheng Anthracite Mining Group International Trading Co. Ltd was to be exclusively considered for the supply Urea fertiliser.

In an  internal memorandum dated October 29, 2013 addressed to acting Peramanent Secretary Dr Catharine Mungona and signed by Sichinga, the President had directed to have the Chinese company of Shanxi Province be single sourced in the procurement of 42,000 metric tonnes of Urea Fertiliser.

But Mulongoti said the fertiliser scandal in in which President Sata has been linked was a serious matter that the Head of State should quickly explain to the nation how he was involved in the deal that has since delayed the distribution of input to the farmers.

“President Sata was addressing the nation on Television last night at which he was telling citizens about the evils of corruption. And just the following morning, we are reading about him getting linked to a fertiliser scandal where the Head of State has been mentioned of directing that his preferred Chinese company should have had the exclusive rights of supplying fertiliser to Zambia. So it would be prudent for Sata deny his involvement and clear his name. So let him react quickly react because that story has put him right on the spot,” Mulongoti said.

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