The Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director Martha Chizuma has disclosed that investigation into the National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA) fuel importation contracts, which were allegedly marred by corruption, is almost over.
Chizuma has told the media that “in a few days’ time ACB will go back to Malawians to inform them about the results”.
ACB ordered NOCMA to suspend the process of engaging fuel suppliers that it had identified. Using section 23 (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act, the Bureau issued a restriction notice on June 8, 2021 on NOCMA against offering contracts to fuel suppliers following claims and allegations of corruption in the carrying out of the bidding process.
In a statement dated June 9, 2021, which was signed by the Bureau’s Principal Public Relations Officer Egrita Ndala, it was stated that pursuant to said section, on June 8, 2021, ACB had issued a restriction notice “following several complaints received alleging irregularities and suspected corruption surrounding the fuel procurement processes” under procurement number NOCMA/ICB/2020/2021.
According to law, a restriction notice has a lifespan of 90 days after which it expires and the Bureau has to seek an extension from the courts should they have genuine reasons for such an extension. Otherwise, should the restriction notice expire, and no extension is sought, the concerned organization goes ahead with the transaction of the concerned business.
But Chizuma has said the ACB will conclude the investigation within 60 days, saying Malawians soon know the outcome of the Bureau’s probe.
NOCMA awarded fuel importation contracts to Lake Oil Limited, Dalbit and Camel Oil, which drew a lot of suspicion among some politicians as well as the civil society, who claimed NOCMA flouted some fundamental procurement procedures.
Prior to the ACB restriction notice, there have been disagreements between the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) and NOCMA when the former claimed NOCMA side-lined MERA in identifying qualified fuel suppliers, saying that was a fundamental error in fuel importation contracts
When NOCMA presented the list of ‘qualified’ bidders to MERA, the latter refused to approve the NOCMA application to offer fuel supply contracts. On the other hand, NOCMA argued that MERA should not be meddling in fuel importation contracts because it the exclusive mandate of NOCMA.
In the midst of the NOCMA and MERA tug-of-war, the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change, issued a ‘Special Report on the Process of Procuring Fuel by NOCMA and the Role of MERA’. The committee, led by Chitipa parliamentarian Welani Chilenga, found MERA’s actions wanting and recommended that NOCMA should proceed to offer the contracts to the identified companies.
But the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) wrote the ACB to intervene and stop the fuel procurement contracts because of alleged irregularities surrounding the identification of suppliers.
Chairperson of the Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament, Gladys Ganda, also raised eyebrows regarding NOCMA’s insistence to proceed to award contracts to the said companies, without taking heed to widespread suspicions over the process. She also asked ACB to intervene.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :