IS THERE REALLY A FERTILIZER SCANDAL?
The Candidates’s Comment
For a very long time, there has been a false narrative being championed that the UPND administration of Hakainde Hichilema has single sourced Alpha Commodities to supply fertilizer worth $50 million.
Further, a number of online platforms have claimed that Dr. Maurice Jangulo the owner of Alpha Commodities is behind an audit which has been ordered by the Ministry of Agriculture over the supply of fertilizer for the period of 2020 to 2021 farming season, merely, to disadvantage his competitors by producing a report that is damaging.
There is a narrative that Maurice was given the $50 million contract to supply 50,000 metric tons of fertilizer because he is a friend to Hakainde.
Therefore, a number of people mainly from the opposition are accusing the Hakainde led administration of being corrupt. Specifically, the Patriotic Front (PF) is attempting to discredit efforts by the investigation wings to investigate and arrest them for any suspected corruption during their tenure on a premise that, while it is okay to do so, this must extend to allegations of corruption happening at the Ministry of Agriculture today.
We agree that all forms of corruption must be investigated regardless of who the suspects are.
However, the PF and all those crying foul over this Alpha Commodities contract are being hypocrites and dishonest. These elements know the truth very well.Of course, the truth is that, towards the 2021 elections, PF lied to Zambians that they had finished distributing fertilizer to all parts of the country. The companies engaged, which included Alpha Commodities and others stated publicly that they had indeed supplied the commodities to all parts of the country in line with the their individual contracts. Of course, only Alpha Commodities and Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) had met their contractual obligations despite that all companies were fully paid.
These companies joined the PF to lie, to cheat that they had met their contractual obligations when in fact not because they wanted Zambians to believe that PF was delivering on time. The PF knew very well that not all companies delivered fertilizer but they wanted to fool Zambians during an election year.
When UPND won the election, an audit was instigated by Ministry of Agriculture to ascertain whether or not the commodity had been delivered by the companies involved. That audit was undertaken by officials at Ministry of Agriculture who have in the past worked together with the same corrupt and dishonest fertilizer suppliers to lie that they have met their contractual obligations.
Anyone who has five senses cannot trust any audit undertaken by these elements at Ministry of Agriculture.
After the same audit, it was discovered that only Alpha Commodities and NCZ had met contractual obligations while other suppliers did not despite getting paid. And when it was discovered that there was a deficit of 50,000 metric tons, government sort for the services of Alpha Commodities and NCZ but the latter stated that it could not afford to deliver given the urgency and time frame. That is how government arrived at giving the contract to Alpha Commodities.
Is there any corruption herein? The answer is categorical no. Alpha Commodities was given that contract because it is a good supplier that met contractual obligations unlike those cheaters.
It can’t be said that Alpha Commodities is today corrupt just because it’s owner Maurice is a friend to Hakainde. Maurice was getting these contracts even during the PF administration. Was it corruption then? The answer is categorical no.
We know that these false narratives are being championed by competitors of Alpha Commodities in partnership with some elements within PF. The Candidates had a candid discussion with a few Ministry of Agriculture officials in confidence. The things we have been told and proved with documents over the behavior of the suppliers of fertilizer for the past seven years , are horrific. It is actually very disturbing that the Office of the Auditor General has not captured the theft of public funds by suppliers of fertilizer. Why has the AG report not paid any attention to Ministry of Agriculture ? To those who came to us with information, we thank you very much because now we have a wide perspective of what has been happening at Ministry of Agriculture. In the past, we depended much on information from suppliers themselves to form an opinion but now we know better.
A number of faceless online platforms have been hired to peddle a false narrative about this issue. And because the UPND has a very weak media system, these lies continue to walk and appear to be truth. Surely, with all these facts, available, why is it difficult for UPND to put to rest these lies? Has the UPND media system been put in the pockets of competitors of Alpha Commodities to malign Maurice and by consequence, Hakainde?
We shall do our best to ensure that a correct narrative is presented to the public for them to understand the kind of plunder that has been happening at Ministry of Agriculture. If there has been criminality in the PF administration, Ministry of Agriculture is one a dirty place.