Opinion

Corruption Allegations Behind Zambia’s Oil Tender with Trafigura

While the new Patriotic Front government of Zambia has been quite outspoken on issues of anti-corruption, a number of stories are beginning to leak that some officials are bending to the temptation of graft.

According to an anonymous whistleblower working inside one of the state ministries, a prominent PF figure in the Ministry of Finance has aligned with a local bank in order to rig the bidding process for the country’s oil supply contract, putting the company Trafigura in 1st place to walk away with the 265 billion Kwacha contract ahead of other bidders, who may have offered more competitive rates and service to the taxpayer.  Further, the minister in question as well as the bank are certain to be receiving heavy bribes from the final amount paid.

This surprising disclosure, which was published on the Zambian Watchdog website, indicates that this will be the largest government tender of the year, and the first serious test of the PF government’s ability to manage state finances in a transparent manner.  For some reason, one of the companies selected for the top three finalists were also the ones with the highest prices, meaning that the technical requirements and criteria for selection of suppliers was ignored.

The author writes, “Having scared the technocrats stiff by branding all of them thieves now the politicians can execute their schemes without any civil servant with a voice.  (…)  Do we need say further the country has lost a golden opportunity to fight corruption by failing to let the best company get awarded and keeping off politicians from the tendering process?  (…) We can only request Michael Sata to intervene and examine information he is given critically before committing to award this highly contentious tender as it will dent the image of his government forever.

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