Fertiliser Scam reported to ACC

The opposition UPND has formally complained to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) that the procurement of urea fertilizer procured from Saudi Arabia constituted corruption and was a waste of public resources and possible theft.

UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema complained of  irregularities with the procurement by the ministry of Finance, of 50, tonnes of Urea fertilizer.

In his letter to the Commission dated 7th November 2013, Hichilema said that procurement was single sourced because there was no tender floated and there appeared to be over payment for the fertilizer.

“In our view, the above conduct constitutes corruption. It is a clear waste of public resources and possible theft. Upon receipt of this complaint and as provided for in the Anti Corruption Act, we expect your office to commence the process of formal investigations in this act of corruption,” read part of the letter.

The opposition leader accused agriculture minister of hand picking a supplier of the commodity.

This is the first time Zambia was importing fertilizer from Saudi Arabia and this has raised a lot of concerns because the private companies which should have brought in 50,000 metric tonnes of Urea had their plans shattered after the government decided to directly engage itself in the deal.

Government however claimed that the fertiliser imported from Saudi Arabia was cheaper than locally sourced one but the overhead costs such as freight and handling push the total cost higher than the local quotes.

In March this year, Luxon Kazabu announced a tender for the importation of Urea fertiliser and seventeen companies, local and international, bid for the tender but it was cancelled by the late Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Kennedy Sakeni for unknown reasons.

Soon after the cancellation of the tender, a special committee comprising permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Secretary to the Treasury some members from the Ministry of Commerce as well as officers from the Office of the President-Special Division was constituted to oversee the importation of the fertiliser.

The special team was then sent to Saud Arabia to go look at the conditions and in July the team came back as they could not sign the Urea fertiliser deal because the company from which the commodity was being sourced was demanding upfront payment.

However, government went ahead to deal with the same supplier for the fertilizer.