Food Reserve Agency (FRA) officials have expressed shock and surprise at how classified information requested by President Sata on Saturday about the operations of Arizona Transport, the company belonging to former Defence Minister Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba, was given to a named newspaper.
Officials from FRA have told the Daily Nation that the President requested specific information about Arizona Transport and its dealings with the agency last week but that it was surprising that the information had found its way to a daily tabloid aligned with the ruling party.
The official said although FRA was not in a habit of releasing classified information to the public, they had no option but to give State House the information requested stating that it was surprising that the same information had been published in a daily tabloid that is believed to be part of the cartel holding President Michael Sata hostage.
This was after Mwamba, popularly known as GBM threatened to sue government and FRA if they did not revoke the cancelation of the maize transportation contract he had signed with the agency.
The officials said that the information published about Arizona Transport was correct but that FRA owed the company huge sums of money in transportation contracts which they had failed to be settle in a long time and that there was nothing sinister about the transactions because Arizona Transport had fulfilled all its contractual obligations.
“We are shocked that the actual information we sent to State House has found itself in the media. We compiled all the information on the transportation of maize by Arizona Transport and the money we have paid the company so far and how much we still owed the company. The boss also wanted to know the nature of the contract we signed with Arizona Transport. But we said that there was no actual contract but loading orders,” said the official.
The officials said that the amounts paid to Arizona Transport were correct as they had accumulated from away back.
The officials said that it was shocking and sad that some people wanted to mislead Zambians that Arizona Transport was paid dubiously or that the company was paid without doing its work.
“Even the time we directed our people in various depots where maize was being transported from, we had about over 40 trucks with trailers belonging to Arizona loaded with maize and we were ordered that the trucks be offloaded. We still owe them a lot of money over K1.8 million,” said the official.
The official said that they were shocked that the directives they received only affected Arizona Transport and not any other company transporting maize for FRA.
“Actually people should not be misled that it is only GBM’s company transporting maize for FRA, we have over nine companies doing the transportation and we have also paid huge sums to all these companies , in fact more than what we have paid off to Arizona and there is no need to raise non-issues about this,” said the official.
And when contacted Arizona Transport managing director Muma Mwamba confirmed the revocation of the loading orders saying his company was remaining with about 7 districts to finish the haulage of maize.
Muma said that it was sad that people were now creating an impression that his firm was not genuinely awarded the contract to transport maize.
He warned that he would not allow his company to be dragged into some unknown political battles just because his father is former defence minister. “I am the MD for this company and we shall not allow people to drag us into politics or make us join in these political issues. We are transporters and shall participate in all businesses as long as we have the capacity. We have more than 40 trucks and why should we not bid for transportation tenders?” wondered Muma.