Bob Sichinga in fertiliser importation scandal

Agriculture and Co-operatives Minister Bob Sichinga has personally single sourced 21,000 metric tonnes of top dressing fertiliser from China without tender procedures and President Michael Sata is aware of the development, Zambian Watchdog investigations have revealed.

Meanwhile the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) is in total disarray and wide spread hunger is unavoidable next year, investigations further reveal.

Sichinga, whose son is married to ailing dictator  Michael Sata’s daughter Chilufya, is reported to have disregarded tender procedures and awarded a contract to a Chinese friend to supply 21,000 metric tonnes of Urea.

The Zambian Watchdog tabulates below how the 21,000 metric tonnes was arrived at and how the FISP is in disarray. Part of the information is obtained from intelligence briefs to Sata by the Office of the President Special Division at State House and seen by the Zambian Watchdog.

THE STORY

Early this year, the Government of the Republic of Zambia advertised a tender for the supply of 71,000 metric tonnes of D-Compound Fertiliser and 71,000 metric tonnes of Urea commonly known as top dressing.

GRZ awarded the 71,000 metric tonnes D-Compound tender to Nitrogen Chemical of Zambia (NCZ) that has since started distributing the fertiliser country-wide.

The 71,000 metric tonnes of Urea contract was given to the private sector but later cancelled when Sichinga moved from Ministry of Commerce to Agriculture.

While Sichinga was busy planning on how to swindle government by awarding the cancelled contract to a friend, Ministry of Finance officials got wind of it and procured 50,000 metric tonnes from Saudi Arabia  meaning that there was a deficit of 21,000 metric tonnes from the original 71,000 metric tonnes.

Sichinga was not happy that the Ministry of Finance procured the Fertliser without his knowledge so he decided to disregard the  tender process and awarded a contract to his Chinese friend to deliver 21,000 metric tonnes. That fertiliser has not even left China.

NOW THE BIGGER STORY OF HOW ZAMBIANS SHOULD EXPECT SERIOUS HUNGER NEXT YEAR

The fertiliser that the Ministry of Finance procured from Saudi Arabia has arrived in Dar-lesalaam, Tanzania but as of today only 6000 metric tonnes has been ferried by Tanzania Zambia Railways (TAZARA) to a depot in Serenje in Central province.

The fertliser is then distributed to Muchinga, Luapula and Northern Provinces. These provinces are not major producers of Maize. The major producers are Eastern, Southern and Central provinces.

TAZARA can only ferry 6000 metric tonnes per month. From the 50,000 metric tonnes ordered by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) 25,000 metric tonnes were delivered earlier the remaining arrived in Tanzania last week.

From the first 25,000 only 6000, has been ferried to Serenje meaning that 19,000 metric tonnes is still remaing from the first batch. At 6000 metric tonnes per month, this mean that Tazara has another three months to finish ferrying the first batch. This mean that TAZARA will finish transporting the first 25,000 metric tonnes in January 2014.

The Ship carrying the second batch of 25,000 metric tonnes can not offload because there is no space as other players in the sector like Nyiombo and Zambian fertiliser have also stock there. This means that owners of the Ship will surcharge Zambia for the delay.

As all this mess is happening,the Zambian government has directed TAZARA to only transport fertiliser to Zambia in order to try to speed up the process. Meanwhile TAZARA has already other existing contractual obligations with other institutions.

TAZARA has basically been told to willfully breach contracts. As if directing TAZARA to stop ferrying any other goods is not enough, the Zambian government is paying TAZARA 20 % less normal rates for ferrying fertiliser.

This has annoyed the Tanzanian government as you may know that TAZARA is owned by the Zambian and Tanzanian governments on 50-50 shareholding.

To reciprocate, the Tanzanian government has also directed TAZARA to be ferrying Maize from Mbeya to Dar-lesalaam on the way back from Zambia also at 20% less.

President Sata is aware of all this as he has been briefed by the Intelligence network. He has even sp[oken to Sichinga about it but he has done nothing. Bob Sichinga and President Sata discussed this a day before the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) Annual Congress.

Sata was worried that some farmers would raise the issue but our beloved farmers who feed us seem not to have known this story or if some knew, they were afraid of a Cobra bite.

 

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