Corruption deal backfires

It has been revealed that one of the companies that was awarded the tender to supply Urea fertiliser had never been in the fertiliser supplying as their core business was the supply of timber.

The sources have revealed that government had awarded contracts to supply fertiliser to companies even before conducting inspection to ascertain their capacity to supply and that it was wrong for government to blame Nyiombo because the fertiliser supplying company had not yet been awarded the contract to supply the input.

Most of the traditional suppliers such as Omnia Investment, Zambia Fertilisers, Greenbelt and Profet with stocks and the capacity to distribute the inputs did not tender because they felt the tendering process was only a window to authenticate bogus and briefcase suppliers. Only Nyiombo tendered.

The scandal ridden procurement and distribution of fertiliser process that has characterised the 2013/2014 farming season has continued to haunt the farming sector and the consequences of the inability to adequately address the problem would be food insecurity and hunger.

The new revelations in the fertiliser procurement scandal are that an attempt by senior government officials to corruptly cash in have failed as all the companies that were awarded contracts to supply the input had no financial and logistical capacity to marshal the stocks for distribution.

So far, only 16,000 metric tonnes of Urea fertiliser has arrived in the country out of the procured 50,000 metric tonnes of the commodity, from Saudi Arabia and the Government is now panicking to secure the stocks and the chaotic procurement process has delayed the distribution exercise by months thereby causing panic to the farming community.

And despite government assurances that all areas would receive inputs by 31 December, five provinces including Copperbelt and Eastern had not received a single grain of fertiliser as government has abandoned its earlier would be suppliers and is hunting for institutions with the commodity and capacity to beat the time and meet the demand.

Minister of Agriculture Robert Sichinga has accused Nyiombo Investment of attempting to use the court process in Tanzania to destabilise the transportation of Urea fertiliser imported from a Saudi Arabian company Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) whose procurement process was said to have been less than transparent.

But sources in government have revealed that Nyiombo had a running contract with Tazara which was signed in March this year and that it was in fact the Government that had attempted to frustrate the fertiliser supplying company from transporting its stock by disregarding its running contract with the railway company.

Government has cancelled a contract awarded to Shanxi  Jincheng  Antracite  Mining Group International Trapping of ShanxI Province in China, supply 420000 metric tonnes of Urea fertiliser because scandal had sucked in Agriculture Minister Sichinga and President Michael Sata.

After the Chinese deal was botched, government returned to the local suppliers, going against its earlier decision not to involve local suppliers to avoid legal implications and listed eight suppliers as bidders which included Olachido investments, Vision Vest Limited, CADG, Nyiombo Investment Limited, Louis Dreyfus Commodity, Export Trading Fertilisers, Nerius Investment limited as well as Norwood enterprises.“It must be brought to attention that Eastern Province, despite being a maize production basket   has not been included on the list of Zones to tender for fertiliser. This is why Kasenengwa Member of Parliament Victoria Kalima spoke out strongly in parliament the other day.  She is worried over what will happen to the intended beneficiaries if they do not receive any inputs,” the sources said.