IN WHAT looks like a major protocol breach, it has been revealed that the US$2.5 billion agreement signed between the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) and Basali Ba Liseli Resources of Angola for the construction of a petroleum pipeline is null and void.
Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Christopher Yaluma says his ministry is not aware of the deal.
The agreement, which was witnessed by Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry permanent secretary Stephen Mwansa and some diplomats from Namibia, Angola and Botswana, was signed by ZDA acting chief executive officer Glyne Michelo and Basali Ba Liseli Resources executive director Walumelo Kalabo on Friday.
At the signing ceremony, officials revealed that the project would be executed under the public private partnership under the name Angola Zambia Refined Petroleum Multi-Product Pipeline, expected to create 6,000 jobs during its two-year construction phase.
But Mr Yaluma, in an interview yesterday, said the ZDA went ‘a little bit too far’ in signing and announcing the agreement and should not commit Government to deals such as the US$2.5 billion for the construction of a petroleum pipeline.
“The ZDA is not a custodian of the energy sector or the Ministry of Commerce and it is not responsible for such agreements, someone jumped the gun and as far as I am concerned, the agreement is null and void,” he said.
The ZDA falls under the Ministry of Commerce and Mr Yaluma stressed that it is his ministry that should have handled the deal in question.
The project involves construction of a 1,400-kilometre pipeline for refined products from Lobito in Angola to Lusaka.
Mr Yaluma said his ministry makes plans for the energy sector and it is still engaged in consultations with various energy sector players on the best way to handle matters relating to fuel.
Mr Yaluma said Government will make sure that proper channels are followed when engaging companies in the supply of fuel.
He said he has the mandate from the President to preside over matters concerning petroleum and to give Zambians the right information.
Mr Yaluma said every project concerning supply of petroleum has to be evaluated by his ministry.
Meanwhile, when contacted for comment, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Bob Sichinga said he was not ready to speak.
“We have to wait until I study the full report of the agreement before I can make any comments,” Mr Sichinga said.