By Noel Mkwaila
The Alliance for Democracy (AFORD has defended its president Enock Chihana following allegations that Chihana and two members of the Tonse Administration tried to interfere with operations of National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA).
On Saturday last week, Deputy Chief Executive Officer for NOCMA, Helen Buluma reported to ACB that Enock Chihana, Energy minister Newton Kambala and Chris Chaima Banda who is Presidential Advisor of Strategy tried to influence her to favor some companies in tendering process.
“I write to your office to report on serious political interference and meddling into NOCMA’s fuel supply process in an attempt to influence 2020/21 fuel supply process…” Reads part of the letter in which Buluma filed to ACB.
But reacting to this, AFORD through its Director of Publicity Chris Thaulo says allegations being made by Buluma towards its president are ‘baseless’ considering that Chihana is a businessman in nature and does not in any way interfere with operations of any institution in bid for contract awarding.
Thaulo said Chihana has a right to do business within the country and abroad and there is no way he should be blocked from trying his luck of supplying fuel to NOCMA.
“Right Honorable Chihana is a Malawian who has the right to do business in the country. Now that the way the allegation has been put, it seems he has no right to do the business.” Thaulo said while adding that “Remember NOCMA advertised their tender for the business and after that, it is obvious that they had to receive interested parties for inquiries and for him to go for inquiries, there is no problem.”
NOCMA on September 17, 2020 advertised fuel supply tender for 314, 820MT for the year 2020/21 fuel supply.
According to Buluma, she was advised by energy minister Newton Kambala to receive instructions direct from him on which company should be awarded contract in the tender, a move that did not please her.
Meanwhile, Kambala has cancelled the fuel tender supply process to a later date saying NOCMA’s board will determine the best way forward on the matter.
The cancellation of the process raised fears among stakeholders that the country may run out of fuel but the minister has assured the general public that there is enough fuel to run various operations.
Malawi is a landlocked country that export fuel from other countries as it does not have fuel drilling sites.