Buluma dresses down SPC Zamba before PAC

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Former National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA) Acting Chief Executive Officer Hellen Buluma on Wednesday, November 23, 2022 dressed down Secretary to the office of the President and Cabinet Colleen Zamba for interfering NOCMA in the awarding of fuel importation contracts

Buluma was appearing before Public Appointments Committee of Parliament (PAC)over the allegations she made in her letter of resignation over SPC Zamba’s conduct.

Conspicuously missing on the part of PAC were members from Tonse Alliance government side of the House.

Buluma has told the parliamentary committee that she was ready to go the day before the Ombudsman released her report and that she told Zamba that she was not ready to defend her position.

She said Zamba told her to stay.

On her resignation, the former NOCMA Acting CEO said she resigned on 14th September.

Buluma said she had made several attempts to meet Zamba to give her the resignation letter.

She said she then decided to send the letter by email and WhatsApp to Zamba, whom she says acknowledged receipt and requested a meeting.

Buluma added that she while she was about to meet Zamba, she saw that someone had leaked the letter, which she had sent to Zamba and Comptroller of Statutory Corporations Peter Simbani.

She said that she got the letter of her firing on the November 16, purporting that she was fired on the November 15.

Buluma described working at NOCMA as both a pleasure and pain because there has always been an assumption that at NOCMA there is money all the time.

She said the fuel crisis started on August 29 because Malawi had no forex.

Buluma said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had put in measures to limit borrowing, a situation which compounded the matter.

She allegedly that the man called ‘Chief’ was supposed to get about US$20 million of the US$50 million from Badea Facility.

She said that could not have been possible because NOCMA had accumulated a lot of debts with traditional fuel suppliers.

She added that for the whole of October Nocma had obtained fuel from suppliers without paying a single penny.

Meanwhile, Thyolo Thava lawmaker, Mary Navicha proposed that PAC call for immediate suspension of Zamba and that the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) should probe the matter.

Navicha has also proposed the enhancement of personal security for Buluma.

Zomba Central MP Bester Awali asked why Malawi Congress Party (MCP) members of the committee have opted to stay away from the meeting.

PAC Board Chairperson Joyce Chitsulo indicated that had not received any notice from MCP members of the committee that they would not attend the meeting.

Asked whether she tried to report Zamba’s interference to the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Buluma said she did not have enough time to do so but that at an appropriate time, she would do that.

She was however quick to note that the ACB could also pickup the issues and investigate them just like the graft-busting body has done with some other issues on which it has acted based on media reports.

Buluma also told the committee that on September 26, 2022 Zamba sent her profiles of fuel suppliers Iconic Venture and Horizon.

She further claimed that a few days later Zamba called her and introduced a man called Chief.

Buluma said she did not know his name but Zamba just called him chief.

She claims Chief later called and made inquires on the issues of fuel supply.

Buluma added further that Zamba told her to consider ‘Chief’, a Nigerian who presented letters of a company from South Africa.

Buluma said when the Badea fuel facility came through on November 10, Zamba sent her a message to the effect that “Kodi za Chief zili pati? Mpakana mumaliza ndalama zonsetu”.

She further claims that ‘Chief’ later called her and started shouting at her as to why she was delaying signing the deal.

Zamba is yet to respond on Buluma’s claims.

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