current round of tendering of all products, including petroleum supply, at National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma) until new management is instituted at Nocma.
Minister of Energy Newton Kambala announced at a news conference in Blantyre yesterday about the cancellation of all the tenders, adding that he had already written Nocma board to put a new executive management team in place, through a transparent process within the shortest possible time.
Said Kambala: “In the absence of a credible management, the fuel supply tender be cancelled. As government, we take public outcry very seriously and this is why His Excellency the State President issued a directive through his public statement on November 5 2020, that issues at Nocma needed to be resolved immediately.”
The cancellation of the tenders at Nocma is coming after Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) wrote the minister of Energy on November 17 2020, expressing concern that there was a contract at Nocma that was irregularly awarded and that Nocma was losing K5 billion on the contract every year.
Nocma is among State institutions that have been hitting headlines for bad reasons since the change of government in June this year. Police arrested the organisation’s chief executive officer Gift Dulla in September 2020 on charges of abuse of office.
Nocma acting CEO, Hellen Buluma, who was brought in to fill the gap Dulla created following his suspension, was also forced out as acting CEO by the board after President Lazarus Chakwera, who described Buluma as “a party operative”, instructed the board to look into matters surrounding her hiring.
A group of people purporting to be Nocma workers also wrote the organisation’s board chair, asking him to remove Buluma because her relationship with workers “unreconciliable”.
HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence said in an interview yesterday that his organisation was aware of the existence of unholy alliances comprising
of senior government officials and business persons that have formed a cartel to influence unprocedural award of contracts. unholy alliances comprising
“This is not in the spirit of what Malawians fought for. And we certainly believe that this not in line with the Tonse Alliance philosophy. HRDC is happy to learn that tendering has been stopped.
“In the past two weeks HRDC wrote the Minister to express its concerns about management and contract issues on fuel as well as on issues surrounding the energy sector, including Escom, Egenco and Mera,” Trapence said.
He said the nation has had a crisis, including high level corruption and cartel interference in the operations of institutions for quite long.
“We need to go back to the drawing board to rest the energy sector to be more efficient and work for the benefit of Malawians not for the benefit of corrupt individuals.
“Given the serious of the cases, we expect the President to act decisively. Our democracy and our revolution should not be hijacked by a few suspected corrupt individuals,” Trapence said.
In the HRDC letter to the Energy Minister, the organisation also alerted the minister that the Nocma matter was reported to Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
Reads the letter, in part: “We have also noticed Nocma has recently advertised several contracts while members of management are under arrest. Clearly, there is a management crisis at Nocma and thus we do not think that the remaining members of the executive management can form a quorum.
“Further to this, we have received concerns about a management crisis at Escom. It is alleged that some members of management were arrested but are still making management decisions.
“HRDC thinks that there is a crisis in the energy sector. We, therefore, write to seek an audience with you, Sir, to discuss the crises in the energy sector,” HRDC had written.
At the news conference yesterday, Kambala said government had noted public concerns on the situation at Nocma where the executive management is currently not complete because some members are on suspension.
“Accordingly, some sections of the society have raised concerns that the situation does not provide a favourable environment for the management of a strategic commodity such as fuel.
“Please note that government is aware of these concerns and issues surrounding the suspension of some members of the management are being attended to by the Board of Directors,” Kambala said before announcing the cancellation of all tenders.
He said he called the news conference to highlight progress government was making in the energy sector since the Tonse administration took office.
Kambala, flanked by Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) CEO Allexon Chiwaya and Electricity Generation Company (Malawi) Limited (Egenco) director of planning and development Labren Sondhi, said the critical forms of energy for socio-economic development are electricity and liquid fuels and gas.