It must be noted that Buluma lied under the oath when addressing the PAC recently. The issue on 700 SA was blown out of proportion. For instance, Buluma claimed that she was being forced to sign a supply contract with 700 SA.
However, what she was requested to sign was an FCO otherwise, known as Full Corporate Offer, or in simple terms the expression of interest, confirming the FCO has been read and the HOLISTIC terms acceptable.
This is normal in oil business to sign an FCO as an acknowledgment that one has received and gone through the said offer. IT IS NOT A CONTRACT.
Normally in the oil supply, an FCO just like an expression of interest can be submitted to anyone without any legal bounds. Before any agreement is made for actual fuel supply, normally follows 4 stages, an FCO from Seller, Irrevocable Corporate Purchase Offer (ICPO) in return from Buyer, Draft Contract with specific terms to be mutually agreed by both Parties.
NOCMA therefore will have to agree to all the above items and terms of their own before any contract is endorsed. This is a painstaking exercise and will normally involve the lawyers of both sides.
To Buluma being herself an Acting CEO fully knew this procedure because it was captured in the Offer document she received, but she deliberately twisted and misreported this to PAC to sway PAC members to her side.
Afterall, anybody can submit an FCO confirming the basis on which they are willing to transact, to any employee or Board member of a company. And what the Board did to ask the Acting CEO to look into these EOIs and follow through with the due process established, if deemed credible, was well within the confines of the Law.
During the PAC interview, Buluma admitted that herself that she has been receiving offers. During the crisis many offers came through others, even offers accepting to be paid in kwachas to help avert the forex crisis. So, what’s wrong with receiving offers from internationally recognized fuel companies and equally deserving Malawian companies?
There is no illegality in the Board to receive expressions of interest through their leveraged networks unless Buluma wants to say her offers were more legal than those received through other channels.
Signing of an FCO or an EOI does not mean you’re buying from them and definitely it’s not procurement.
This is a normal business process and it’s not only applicable in the fuel industry.
The Deputy CEO also reported to PAC that she rejected the 700 SA offer on the basis that it was too expensive.
However, according to the documents we have seen the landed cost of fuel from the existing suppliers is in the region of US$1,280 per ton, while calculated, that of 700SA offer was US$1,127.50 per ton.
Thus, Government would be saving approximately US$153 per tonne.
In context, based on the offer from 700SA alone, which was on the basis of 40,000 MT of petrol and 40,000 MT of diesel, this means Malawi would have been saving US$12 million per month, thus US$144 million annually in potential.
In this forex crisis, such huge savings can be used for other key priorities that need forex e.g., Agriculture, education, health, etc.
Was this pushing for value for money and seamless reliable delivery a wrong thing for the Government to do? Who is being reasonable and truthful between Hellen and the Government here? Malawians should judge and Malawians are not fools.
In one of the previous communications we have gathered, Government through the SPC instructed, CLEARLY, the Acting CEO to follow through all legal processes and procedures in dealing with any intended supplier, and to look at every offer case by case basis and to ensure transparency.
This shows that the assertions by Helen that the SPC and the PS wanted to cut corners were fabricated lies to seek public sway sympathy, drive her conspiracy narrative and hide to the nation her intention to continue protecting the existing suppliers where she allegedly has personally been benefitting since the DPP era.
Given that 700 SA deal was seemingly credible,good for the country and showed potential to aid in curbing the crisis, the Board was justifiable to push for this deal to be considered seriously, so long as the Acting CEO was encouraged to actwithin the legal requirements of the actual Procurement process when it comes to actual Contractual engagement with NOCMA. At no time was this ever in debate from what we have clearly seen and gathered.
To be clear, there’s evidence that the Acting CEO was reminded by the Chairperson to stick to legal requirements when a new supplier has to be officially engaged.
This was the case on 13th November, 2022, the SPC reminded Helen on need to follow all legal requirements and due processes and she understood this very well.
However, the Acting CEO did not report this vital aspect to the honorable PAC Members, knowing fully well that this assertion would defeat her false script and personal vendetta aimed at destroying anyone who wanted sanity and competition in the system, even at the detriment of the obvious fuel crisis on ground.
Again her accusations that the Board was constantly reminding her to follow up with new suppliers was ill placed.
The NOCMA Board has mandate to ensure the Management fast track implementation so long as it is within the laws. Moreover, in time of crisis, as a responsible Board it was crucial for them to ask the Acting CEO to speed up the process of finding new suppliers and following up credible leads in a timely fashion is part of her job.