ZAMBIA Bureau of Standards (ZABS) executive director Manuel Mutale has dispelled allegations that the institution lacks competence, integrity and credibility, disclosing that it thoroughly tested a total of 630 Honeybee Pharmacy Limited- supplied condoms, contrary to false claims that only one was tested.

Speaking when he addressed journalists in Lusaka, Wednesday, Mutale said ZABS remained a technical institution whose dealings and procedures were driven by science.

He, therefore, urged the public to ignore all baseless allegations being spread about the institution, which called into question their professionalism and adherence to standards.

Mutale was responding to unfounded criticism from various stakeholders like Lusaka lawyer and Kabwe Central PF member of parliament Tutwa Ngulube who last month claimed that ZABS did not properly test Honeybee-supplied condoms and gloves.

“ZABS services are available for industry to test and certify their products and quality management systems. The government has over the years invested in the national quality infrastructure to be able to support the industry in producing quality and competitive products and services. The accreditation status of the testing facilities at ZABS should give assurance to the industry and general public of the competence of the institution, especially as we look towards participation in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” Mutale told journalists during a tour of the Bureau’s laboratories.

“With this, we would like to conclude that ZABS dispels all the baseless allegations that are spreading in the public domain about the institution’s lack of competence, integrity and credibility. ZABS develops national standards that are market-driven; tests products on behalf of various clients such as regulators, manufacturers, importers, exporters, government agencies and the general public. We are a technical institution as such, our dealings and procedures are driven and will continue to be driven by science.”

Mutale added that the institution was not allowed to release results to third-parties, but only to its clients in accordance with quality management systems on confidentiality.

“Our quality management system and procedures on confidentiality and impartiality does not allow ZABS to issue out results to third-parties, but only to clients that bring samples to us for analysis. Our focus is never on who manufactured those products or who supplied them, but on producing credible results with which our clients can make an informal decision,” he explained.

And Mutale stressed that ZABS laboratories were credible, reliable, consistent and internationally acceptable, adding that the condom testing lab was one of the accredited labs with specifications used to analyse the product.

“ZABS has a total of eight laboratories, namely, general chemistry; microbiology; petroleum; textiles and packaging; condoms; paints; construction materials and an electrical laboratory. These laboratories have undergone a thorough third-party assessment that the results have been proved to comply with ISO 17025. This demonstrates that the results generated from these laboratories are credible, reliable, consistent and internationally acceptable. Regarding the testing of the condoms, the condoms laboratory is one of the accredited laboratories. The specifications used to analyse the product are in line with ISO 4074.2015, which specifies the requirements and test methods for natural latex male condoms, while for the gloves, the products are tested against ISO 11193, which specifies the requirements for gloves made from rubber latex or rubber solutions. The test for these products are accurate, impartial and credible and there should be no doubts in the credibility of the test reports produced by the condoms laboratory,” said Mutale, adding that the ZABS condoms labs participated in proficiency testing schemes, which proved that the tests conducted could be trusted and were of high standard.

According to Mutale, ZABS tested 315 pieces of the Honeybee-supplied condoms for holes and water leakages, and another 315 for determination of bursting, volume and pressure, contrary to assertions that only one condom was tested from the consignment.