The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) says it will probe alleged theft of fuel at National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma) meant for emergency diesel generators at Electricity Supply Corporation Malawi (Escom).
ACB director general Reyneck Matemba, in an interview yesterday, said the bureau was moved to probe the alleged fuel theft following a complaint Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) lodged with his office.
HRDC is running a whistleblowing initiative and providing information to ACB to probe institutions reportedly engaged in malpractices.
But while not clearly indicating when the investigations would start and the specific timeframe, Matemba yesterday said information from the HRDC is relevant and will simplify their work.
He said: “We will investigate the matter as we are doing with all other complaints that we are receiving. Many thanks to HRDC for their initiative, the information they are providing to the ACB through their platform is very relevant and useful for our work.”
According to a letter dated July 28 from HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence to Matemba, Nocma went into an agreement with Escom to supply fuel between December 2017 and December 2018 following approval by Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera).
The letter states that while the contract expired in December 2018, Nocma entered into a more expensive contract with Sahara Inc of Egypt for the supply of the fuel, a development that resulted in Nocma making losses.
Reads the letter in part: “To cover for the loss that Nocma made, Nocma forged the approved agreement signed between Escom and Nocma to factor in the loss and thus billed Escom K5 billion.”
According to the letter, while Escom was supposed to arrange transportation of the fuel from Nocma to generation sites, Nocma changed the arrangement and started transporting the fuel.
However, the letter indicates that investigations the HRDC conducted show that most of the fuel was never delivered despite paperwork being completed for Escom to effect payment; hence, calling for ACB to probe the matter.
In December 2018, the office of the Ombudsman also launched an investigation into theft of about 4.2 million litres of fuel at Escom meant for the emergency generators procured from Aggreko.
At the time, Escom said it was also investigating how the fuel was stolen between the point of loading at Nocma and the generators at the three sites of Chichiri in Blantyre, Kanengo in Lilongwe and Chinyama in Kasungu.
A report of the fuel theft compiled by Escom head of security indicated that the company suspected collusion between drivers, fuel attendants, guards and Aggreko staff.