CHILANGA UPND member of parliament Sipho Hlazo says government should consider conducting an audit of the fertiliser procurement process for the past 10 years.
In December, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) heard that the Ministry of Agriculture received an instruction from State House during former president Edgar Lungu’s tenure to award a K839 million fertiliser tender to Rockliffe Trading FZC.
Commenting on this in an interview, Hlazo said the country could not continue losing colossal sums of money through the importation of fertiliser.
“There should be an audit. We have seen what has been happening even before UPND came into government. There have been questions about who has been supplying fertiliser to the country. There are about three or four supplying companies so there should be an audit for the past five or even 10 years. We can even bring out international investigators because we cannot continue this year and lose such colossal amounts of money through fertiliser procurement as a country,” he said.
“Companies are paid full amounts but they supply less than what is required. It is clear and this has been happening for the past years. Government should look into producers and invest back into Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia. We saw another company coming up with fertiliser production. We need to support that so that less money is lost. If fertiliser is produced locally, we need to do away with these dealers because these dealers are bringing in more problems in this country. If we produce fertiliser locally, this will reduce imports of fertiliser and reduce corruption through the procurement process.”
Hlazo said law enforcement agencies needed to take interest in the matter so that those found wanting were brought to book.
“Clearly, we have seen that this whole fertiliser syndicate is an entire system and we need to go down on it. The receivers need to be probed, people in procurement, people in accounts and everybody else. This whole big scandal needs to be investigated. If there are people who have been involved and are found to have gone against the law, they must be arrested and bring back the money that has been stolen from Zambians,” said Hlazo.
“We are not going to allow this to continue and law enforcement agencies need to take action against this fertiliser scandal. Further, we need to reduce on this importation of fertiliser because you can clearly see that this has been going on for a long time since the MMD regime. From what we have been seeing, you can clearly see that this dealership is a cartel.”