The Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP) has said it approved the request from State grain trader the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) to procure 100 000 metric tonnes of non-genetically modified (GMO) maize from Zambia at $345 per tonne.
ODDP’s director Paul Taulo said on Thursday in response to a questionnaire on their involvement in the procurement deal that Admarc first submitted a request to buy maize from Kaloswe Commuter and Courier Ltd, and after its approval, the corporation changed, opting to buy from Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZFC) at the same price of $345 per tonne.
This means, whether buying from Kaloswe or ZCF, Admarc was supposed to pay $34.5 million for the 100 000 metric tonnes.
Taulo said his office approved Admarc to use a single source method of procurement, which is normally applied on emergencies.
Said Taulo: “We can confirm that the Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP) was involved at the many stages of the procurement process. Admarc applied to this office and approval was granted for it to use single source method of procurement based on information it provided and in line with Section 30 (10) (C) of the Public Procurement Act 2003.”
According to Taulo, Admarc submitted that it would be procuring 100 000 metric tonnes of maize at $345 per tonne, which his office did not check the procured as this is not part of its mandate.
On allegations of corruption in the procurement deal, Taulo said his office is equally disappointed with corruption issues in the country, and supports investigations to unearth the truth.
“The allegations of corruption are a very sad development for this country. This office is desirous that all cases of corruption be investigated and concluded for the benefit of the nation at large and this office will cooperate with any such investigation,” he assured.
While Admarc insists that it is buying maize from ZFC, a government agency, documents show that Admarc may have used a private Zambian company, Kaloswe Commuter and Courier Ltd that may be more expensive if the deal was done between Lilongwe and Lusaka.
Admarc is expected to pay $34.5 million (about K26 billion) through a letter of credit from PTA Bank for the maize, which is $13 million (about K9.5 billion) more than it should have paid had it bought the maize from the ZFC.
Of late, Agriculture Minister George Chaponda and Admarc chief executive officer Foster Mulumbe have come under fire for the way they handled the procurement of the maize, with civil society organisations (CSOs) calling for their resignation.
In trying to exonerate himself, Chaponda on Wednesday issued a statement in which he explained that he was not directly involved in the procurement process.
Last week, President Peter Mutharika instituted a commission of inquiry to probe the maize deal, while the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture has also said it will launch its own investigation.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) last Friday also said it will launch its own investigation in conjunction with its Zambian counterparts—the Zambia Corruption Commission (ZCC).n