THE Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) says it will not be swayed into discussions against the institution regarding its mandate because it upholds the highest standards and it stands by all test results which are issued out to its clients.
On Monday, Kabwe Central PF member of parliament Tutwa Ngulube charged that ZABS did not properly test Honeybee-supplied condoms and gloves, arguing that you could not only test one and conclude that everything else was defective.
But in an interview, ZABS chief executive officer Manuel Mutale insisted that the institution was a reputable and accredited organisation in executing its mandate.
“We are making arrangements in the shortest possible time to address this and to just give you, our colleagues from the media fraternity some orientation. Remember, we are a science institution and we don’t want to start discussing client issues in the media, we have to be ethical, and we still maintain that position. We are a lab and once you test, you give results to a client, the client has to make decisions based on those results. So, we can’t be swayed into all these discussions and whatever, no. For us, we are a science institution and we have to be ethical, uphold our standards and our methods,” said Mutale.
“We have seen all these press issues and we are making consultations and also reviewing our procedures because the integrity of the client is very critical in a testing facility. So, we cannot breach that obligation to make sure that we keep client matters because at the end of the day, it is the clients who have to make decisions based on those results. That still remains our position. We are a reputable organisation, accredited laboratories and we stand by what we issue. But suffice to say that we should be able to invite the media in the course of this week so that we give a bit more information. We are following our procedures, we don’t mind the heat and we are respecting the client’s interest.”
Speaking during a phone-in programme on Capital FM radio, Monday, Ngulube complained that accusations against Honeybee were false.
“We wrote a letter to the News Diggers! We wrote letters to ZABS. Our clients wrote letters complaining that how do you conclude that Honeybee supplied defective condoms? Honeybee supplied to Medical Stores, Medical Stores issued a certificate confirming that the tests had been done and everything was okay. And all the products supplied met the requirements, then from nowhere, somebody just pops up and says, ‘Honeybee supplied defective condoms?’ Even the people that certified, now, wake up and start singing the same chorus! So, we wrote to them, saying, ‘you are the same people that certified these products.’ Also, what we know is that ZABS cannot start conducting tests, contrary to what the World Health Organisation (WHO) has set up,” said Ngulube.
“ZABS tested one condom and one glove, the manufacturers tested 200 gloves and we have these reports because they tested one sample of one kit, then everything else is defective? Even when you are taking your maize to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), they will weigh your maize, they will check the moisture, they will not just check one bag. If you have brought 1,000 bags, they will check at random, 50 bags. You don’t pick one grain and one bag. So, the integrity of ZABS has been challenged by four international laboratories and that is why we are saying can ZABS confirm what they did? As far as these four international laboratories who are accredited to WHO are saying the tests that were used by ZABS were wrong, the test method was wrong! ZABS should probably check themselves. That is why people are thinking that by writing to ZABS, we are saying they should not have done the tests, no, we are saying that it was wrong for them to conclude because they wrongly tested.”