NCZ fertilizer scam continues

Greed by some senior government officials is likely to cause another fertilizer distribution crisis as there are serious attempts to manipulate the procurement parameters to accommodate an expensive but preferred company to supply and deliver 64 000 tons of raw materials for the manufacturing of D-Compound fertilizer at an astronomical cost of US $54 million by the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ,

Despite the cancellation of the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) tender for the supply and delivery of raw materials for the manufacturing of Compound D fertiliser, a named company has already been awarded a contract and has since commenced supplying the raw materials.

But when contacted for a comment, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Wilbur Simusa said he was not aware that the NCZ tender for the supply and delivery of raw materials for the manufacturing of D-Compound fertilizer had been cancelled.

But Ministry of Agriculture officials have told the Daily Nation that a named company had already been awarded the contract to supply 64 000 tons of raw materials at the exorbitant bid price of US $54 million part of which is believed to finance the activities of the ruling party.

The officials said it was corruption of the worst kind to have a company continue supplying raw materials for the manufacturing of D-Compound fertilizer when the NCZ had announced the cancellation of the tender.

Last month, NCZ cancelled the tender for the supply and delivery of the raw materials for the manufacturing of D-Compound after President Sata expressed concern in the manner the tender process was being handled.

Last week, NCZ re-advertised the tender and within days, advertisement for the bids had been cancelled for unexplained reasons.

The officials also said it was not surprising that NCZ had continued cancelling and re-advertising the tender because it was wrought with a lot of corruption as some senior Patriotic Front (PF) officials were determined that the named company should be given the deal because it had pledged to finance the activities of the ruling party.

The officials wondered why the company had been allowed to continue supplying the raw materials even after the NCZ had cancelled the tender stating that as far as they were concerned, the tender was effectively aborted and that it was irregular for the fertilizer manufacturing company to accept raw materials from a company that had not been officially awarded the contract.

“The NCZ tender for the supply and delivery of raw materials for the manufacturing of D-Compound fertilizer has been cancelled yet again for known reasons. There is rampant corruption in the tendering process and as we speak, a named company has already been given a 64 000 tons of raw materials target at an exorbitant bid price of 454 million. As far as we are concerned, the tender remains cancelled and whoever is supplying NCZ with the raw materials is doing so through corruption,” the official said.

The official said the technocrats at the Ministry of Agriculture were angry with the rampant abuse of office and authority by some senior government officials and that they were ready to continue exposing the corruption in the procurement in the PF government because corruption had reached alarming and scaring levels.

But Mr Simusa said it was not possible that the tender could be cancelled again and that the raw materials NCZ was currently using had been left over from the previous consignment.

Mr Simusa said he was aware that the tender had been cancelled once and that the advertisement currently running in public media had not been cancelled.

When told that in fact the tender had for the second time been cancelled, Mr Simusa said he was going to find out what could have happened because according to him, the tendering process had met all the requirements.

He said it was not possible that NCZ could have allowed a particular company  to continue supplying and delivering raw materials when the tender had been cancelled.

“I am not aware that the tender has been cancelled again and as far as I know, there is an advertisement asking for bids because as you may know, I am on record having said that I do not want the distribution of fertilizer to be delayed as it was this season. There is a procedure of cancelling the tender because not even I as Minister cannot cancel the tender. I have made it very clear that we should not delay the distribution of fertilizer as was the case this farming season,” Mr Simusa said.

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