Fertilizer scandal!

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

The planting season is on and government is still struggling to purchase Urea fertilizer albeit in a manner devoid of procurement standards and with the hope that the top dressing fertilizer would be in the country before the end of December this year.

Inspite of the current failure by government to meet the demands, government has decided not to buy from local suppliers and the Chinese fertilizer is supposed to land at the Port of Dar es laam in Tanzania or Beira in Mozambique by the end of December this year both of which have not been explored.

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.

According to 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.

In his October 29, 2013 internal memo addressed to Dr Mungoma, Sichinga directed that: “I wish to inform or remind all concerned that His Excellency the President had directed that the first procurement process be cancelled due to irregularities. I wish to inform you that I have listened very carefully to all the submissions made by various contributors but I do not have the intention to disregard/ignore the President’s directive on this matter. Please proceed to undertake all steps that are necessary to ensure the procurement of 42,000 metric tonnes of Urea as expeditiously as possible with the intention that the fertilizer is received earlier.”

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

Sichinga said in his memo  to Dr Mungoma captioned procurement of 42,000 metric tonnes of imported Urea fertilisers that it was necessary that the Urea fertilizer procurement process could be completed and that the order to have Shanxi Jincheng Anthracide Mining Group International Trading Co.Ltd was closed.

Sichinga said he was going to consult President Sata on the procurement of Fertiliser from the Chinese company not later than August 30th 2013 from the date he had issued the memo to import fertilizer.

The Agriculture Minister explained in his correspondence to Dr Mungoma that government had preferred to single source the procurement of Urea fertilisers from China because the Saudi Arabian company (Saudi Basic Industries Corporation) from which the Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda had sourced 50,000 metric tonnes of Urea fertilizer was not interested in setting up a Urea fertilizer manufacturing in Zambia.

Sichinga said it was necessary that the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) was capacitated to produce Urea fertilizer stating that there was need to technological transfer at Zambia’s D compound fertilizer manufacturing company.

On August 23th 2013, Sichinga directed Siazongo Siakalenge, the then Permanent Secretary in his ministry to expeditiously execute President Sata’s directive and fulfill all matters requiring clearance by the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) and those of the Attorney General or any other office deemed necessary of compliance

In the August internal memo captioned quotation for supply of Urea fertilizer from Shanxi Jinchng Anthracite Mining Group International Trading of Shanxi Province in China and addressed to Siakalenge, Sichinga said he found the proposal from the Chinese company to supply Urea fertilizer at the rate of US$372 per metric tonne the lowest offer.

Sichinga stated that the group had intimated that it was willing tom invest in NCZ with a view to start Urea fertiloser and other agriculture chemicals such as phosphate fertilisers, calcium supper phosphate from three phosphate deposits at Petauke, Isoka and Mumbwa.

And according to the quotation from Shanxi Jincheng Anthracite Mining Group International Trading Co.Ltd were willing sell 47,000 metric tonnes of Prilled Urea fertilisers to the Zambian government and that the shipment was going to be delivered through the port of Dar es laam in Tanzania.