SENIOR Government officials prevented visiting Gunivor oil company officers from meeting Energy minister, Christopher Yaluma who had summoned them over to explain the contaminated oil they sent to Zambia .
The minister was prevented from meeting the top Gunivor management officials despite summoning them to Zambia for an emergency meeting during the Indeni contaminated feedstock crisis, it was learnt in Lusaka yesterday.
The Gunivor management team flew into Ndola last July for emergency talks after being summoned by Government over the US$10 million contaminated commingled oil scandal – but the minister was not informed – and only learnt about their presence in the country through the Press while attending a funeral on the Copperbelt.
Sources at the Ministry of Energy disclosed to the Daily Nation that senior Government officials at the ministry did not want Mr Yaluma to meet the Gunivor officials for unknown reasons.
The sources explained that it was shocking that despite the minister taking corrective measures to address the problem at Indeni by summoning the Gunivor officials, senior Government officials at the ministry ‘‘played smart’’ and ensured that the suppliers did not meet the minister.
“If you remember very well if I am not mistaken, Gunivor officials came to Zambia on a weekend and they were supposed to meet Mr. Yaluma on a Monday but what happened is that the minister was not informed about their arrival.
‘‘So the minister travelled to Kitwe for a funeral and while there he saw the story that Gunivor officials were in the country and he called officials at the ministry to find out and told them that he should meet them,” said the source.
The sources explained that upon arrival back in Lusaka the following day, Mr. Yaluma was shocked to learn that the Gunivor officials left the previous day in the evening.
The sources explained that the minister was furious and demanded to know who sanctioned them to leave before meeting him for a meeting to address the crisis they had caused at Indeni which led to Government to lose over US$10 million in repairs.
The Minister was more shocked
to learn that Gunivor officials had even visited Indeni refinery to assess the extent of the damage the contaminated commingled feedstock they supplied had caused to the plant without his authority.
“Mr. Yaluma ordered the permanent secretary Brigadier-General Emmeldah Chola to submit a report on the mystery visit by Gunivor officials but todate no such report was availed to him.
The only report so far has been the one submitted to the minister and Indeni board last week after the investigations were concluded.
‘‘We are shocked that Madam Chola is saying that investigations are still going on and that there was no report about Indeni,” said the sources.
They revealed that there was too much hide and seek in the manner the Indeni saga was being handled by officials from the ministries of Finance and Energy as they were not willing to state the truth about the oil refinery company and the way they extended the contract for the supply of commingled feed stocks by Gunivor without subjecting the supplier to any form of tender.
The current tender to Gunivor to supply commingled feed- stock, the sources said, was not subjected to any tender process and the minister was not informed about it, adding that it was the reason why the coming and going of Gunivor officials was shrouded in secrecy because officials at the ministries of Energy and Finance knew that if they informed the minister it would not pass.
The sources also revealed that when Gunivor officials were summoned about the loss the Zambian Government was going to suffer over the contaminated feedstock they committed themselves to pay for the damage caused to Indeni.
“Ask Gunivor and you will discover that they made part- payment for the damage…ask PS (Energy) I am sure she knows about this because she was informed about it. ‘‘The payment was made. Let me just get the figures,” said the source.
Mr. Yaluma summoned Gunivor officials to come to Zambia for a meeting about the supply of the contaminated commingled feedstock which was imported and pumped into Indeni refinery, damaging the plant before it was shut down for days.
The source said Gunivor representatives had also visited Indeni in the presence of officials from the Ministry of Energy to assess the damage caused to the facility.
The source explained that no report had been submitted to the minister informing him about the visit of Gunivor to Zambia despite being the one who summoned then to come.
“There is no report which was made to the minister about Gunivor and that is why although the PS (Energy) was out of the country to China at the time it happened, the minister directed her to do a report or submit a report which has not been done till now,” said the source.
The source explained that some officials from the ministries of Finance and Energy who were part of the team that extended the contract for the supply of commingled feedstock to Gunivor without subjecting the supplier to tender did not want the minister to meet the suppliers while visiting Zambia.
“There are too many dirty tricks in the manner this whole Indeni saga has been handled. It is a fact Gunivor officials visited Indeni and had a meeting with Indeni management in the presence of officials from the Ministry of Energy and some board members.’’
Contacted for a comment, Brig.-General Chola said she could not answer because she was out of town on her way to Sinazongwe.
“I am on my way to Sinazongwe. Who has given you that information.
‘‘It was publicized that the ministry had arranged a meeting with Gunvor; it was in the Press including yourselves . I will be in the office tomorrow (today).
‘‘But issues of sneaking out…they did not sneak out. I think l will have to find out more from the minister,” said Brig.Gen Chola.