CHAKWERA UNDER FIRE

The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has challenged President Lazarus Chakwera to show genuine leadership by taking action on the prolonged “petty” disagreements between National Oil Company of Malawi-NOCMA and Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority-MERA.

CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa believes the situation has worsened due to lack of leadership at NOCMA to provide sensible direction on fuel procurement in the country.

Namiwa, in a statement issued on Tuesday, also hit at Tonse partners saying they are trying to outclass each other on the awarding of contracts in order to claim hefty commissions from the selected suppliers.

He said it is sad that President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera has chosen to helplessly watch the drama as it unfolds instead of stamping his authority to bring sanity on the matter.

“We, at CDEDI, are of the view that as a country, we have entertained this drama for way too long, and we can no longer continue watching it when we know that anytime we are going to pay with our own lives due to our inability to act. For starters, it is only in Malawi where government does not have 100 percent control over fuel supplies,” reads the statement in part.

Namiwa emphasized that fuel controls the economy and it is the only commodity across the world that runs governments; hence, any slight crisis could translate into loss of lives in Malawi.

He also lamented the leadership crisis at the National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA), which has resulted into lack of capacity to award fresh contracts to fuel suppliers since the parastatal’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the Director of Finance and the Procurement Officer are all on suspension.

Namiwa further observed that NOCMA is playing the role of MERA since it has bypassed the regulator by identifying fuel suppliers without involving the regulator.

“NOCMA is clearly violating the law by publishing the intention to award contracts for fuel supplies in the press, without disclosing the prices of the bids, as per the requirement of the law.

Poorly negotiated deals mean the consumer will bear the consequences through an instant increase in pump prices, a development that automatically pushes up both the cost of living and production, thereby translating into more misery of the already struggling Malawians,” he said.

However, the firebrand human rights activist acknowledged that the involvement of politicians in the fuel supplies is not new as they try so hard to bring in their preferred suppliers.

He emphasized that the leadership of NOCMA is critical in ensuring due diligence in the ranking of the bidders to ascertain the technical and financial capacity to supply the liquid.

“We have evidence in our possession, which indicates that the technical and financial capacity of some of the preferred fuel suppliers is questionable, such that they do not qualify to be awarded the contracts.

Such underqualified bidders, whose technical and financial capacity is questionable, are the ones NOCMA has selected from the ‘not full bid’ category, thereby putting the country at risk,” alleged Namiwa in the statement.

CDEDI has since demanded that President Chakwera should demonstrate decisive leadership by reorganizing NOCMA.

He also demanded that NOCMA should suspend the current bids since the bid validity expired way back and that while the government is sorting out the leadership crisis at NOCMA, the contracts for the previous suppliers should be extended in order to avert a looming fuel crisis.

“Should there be any fuel crisis any time soon in the country, CDEDI will not hesitate but to lead Malawians into nationwide protests, to force President Chakwera to rectify the situation, with the urgency it deserves,” warned Namiwa.

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