NOCMA under fire over suspicious award of fuel supply contracts

The National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA) has come under heavy criticism from the general public—especially commentators—in the manner it is handling the issue of award of contracts to companies that will supply oil and gas to the country.

Malawians, including renowned social media influencer, Stanley Onjezani Kenani, have taken to social media platform, Facebook, suspecting foul play on the part of NOCMA as it published the notice of intention to award the contracts without attached cost tags.

The notice of intention to award fuel supply contracts, which we have seen, has June 1 as the date of issue and NOCMA/ICB/FUEL/2020/2021 as the procurement reference number.

It reads: “In line with Section 48 of the Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Act 2017, the National Oil Company of Malawi Limited (NOCMA) wishes to inform the general public and bidders who participated in the tender detailed above that it intends to award fuel supply contracts as follows:

Buluma

“Lake Oil Limited (to supply 35 000 and 65 000 metric tons of mogas and gasoil respectively, Dalbit International Limited (to supply 41 461 and 38 539 metric tons of mogas and gasoil respectively) and Camel Oil (T) Limited (to supply 20 407 and 34 413 metric tons of mogas and gasoil respectively).”

Mogas, also called autogas, is lead-free, ethanol-free gasoline that meets ASTM D4814 specifications, which includes most automotive fuel.

‘Suspicious’

Kenani, a well read and travelled Malawian, said the award of the fuel supply contracts by NOCMA left a lot to be desired.

“They [NOCMA] first decided to award two companies only, Lake Oil and IPG, the most expensive among the bidders. Then mysteriously, now NOCMA has dropped IPG, and has included two other suppliers. No one knows why. No explanation, nothing. The next thing they publish their intention to award the contract in the papers without indicating any prices. NOCMA must be held to account. It must be investigated pretty quickly, before placing the burden on the heads of 18 million Malawians,” Kenani wrote on Facebook.

Another, Gani Bika, wondered why the powers-that-be were lukewarm on clearing the rubble that is at NOCMA.

And, Howard Mlozi, a trained journalist opined that the department [NOCMA] lacked transparency.

“It needs Martha Chizuma as director of operations,” said Mlozi.

‘Rot at NOCMA’

Nyasa Times understands that the scam at NOCMA is existent because there are parties interested especially politicians and politically-connected businesspersons who stand to benefit in one way or another.

“The whole thing is a scam. The first lot has four companies but the powers-that-be were unhappy with some brokers who would benefit from the deal so they cancelled. When they chose the next two, the initial benefitting brokers cried foul. This is all about greed, impunity and gluttony. The process must be restarted, preferably starting with making sure that there is a transparently appointed CEO at NOCMA,” said John Jali.

Hellen Buluma, the acting NOCMA CEO, has, since the Tonse Alliance took over power, been under fire for underperformance and for being a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) operative with aims of frustrating the oil industry in the country.

Buluma contested for a parliamentary seat in 2019 on DPP ticket but lost.

‘HRDC wants NOCMA investigated’

Notice of intention to award the contracts that appeared in The Nation newspaper on June 1. Pic by Nyasa Times Reporter.

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) last week asked the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) to investigate allegations of corruption and abuse of office in the ongoing procurement of fuel supply contracts by NOCMA.

HRDC’s call comes against a background of bitter fighting between the boards and management of National Oil Company (Nocma) and Malawi Energy Regulation Authority (Mera).

In a statement co-signed by HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence and national coordinator Luke Tembo, the civil society organisation also wants the graft-busting body to suspend the procurement process.

The letter, dated May 27 2021, states that the awarding of contracts was shrouded by underhand dealings; allegations of selection of contracts with overpriced bids.

In the letter, HRDC further asked for “an immediate, thorough and expedited investigation on each step of the procurement process including the bidding, evaluation, selection and awarding of contracts” and a “thorough review of role of the boards of Mera, Nocma, government ministers, politicians and the oil suppliers in the process”.

Reads part of the letter: “To avert any possible abuses of office and misappropriation of taxpayer money, we call for your office to immediately suspend the whole procurement process until you have satisfied yourself that relevant procurement laws have been satisfied and that no offences under the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA) have been committed.”

The Parliamentary Committee on Environment and Natural Resources intervened through interface meetings with both institutions and passed a resolution mandating Nocma to proceed with the procurement.

But HRDC said the committee’s move was tantamount to interference in the procurement process.

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Patriot
Patriot
4 months ago

The ordinary men and women will end up paying more when they purchase the fuels. Why should they ??

Mbonga Matoga
Mbonga Matoga
4 months ago

I can’t believe that the whole Tonse government machinery is failing to get lid of this dirty Buluma lady……

SES
SES
4 months ago

New fuel contractors with business registered in Malawi and employing locals as majority must be given these contracts as part of making up for the One million jobs as per Tonse Alliance Government promises.

Blessings
4 months ago

Big bulls are fighting

Kaduya DC
Kaduya DC
4 months ago

How can a compromised Chilenga Committee be taken seriously when the members were eating allowances from NOCMA. History is repeating itself. Last year NOCMA sent the Committee to Zambia to win its support. No wonder they are blindly supporting NOCMA in this mess. The nation needs an explanation on why we should not go for the most competitive bidders. At a time when there is forex shortage why should we procure fuel under DDU system which is not only expensive but also wastes forex and jobs for Malawians. This runs counter to the Tonse Alliance manifesto on job creation. Kamuzu… Read more »

patriotic writer and reviewer

He does NOT argue

patriotic writer and reviewer

Kenani Onjezani depicts a true patriotic citizen of Malawi. He does argue with facts! While we appreciate how politics boils at NOCMA, it is important that government machinely should move swiftly on this organisation.

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