The Human Rights Defenders Coal i t ion (HRDC) has 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 Ene r g y Regul a t ion 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 says the committee’s move is tantamount to interference in the procurement process.
When contacted yesterday, ACB deputy director Elias Bodole said he was yet to receive the letter.
“Maybe I will get it on Monday as it might have come during the weekend,’ he said.
Nocma is a State-owned company with mandate to import and manage strategic fuel reserves while Mera is a regulator of the energy industry.
In January, the Mera board declined to approve Nocma’s application for awarding of contracts to suppliers selected by Nocma, citing concerns of overpricing.
Mera is on record as having argued that the fuel deals Nocma has settled for were $50 million (about K45 billion) more expensive and would trigger fuel pump price if adopted.