4 February 2013

Zambia: Government Fires Nitrogen Chemicals Managers Over Fertilizer

The Government has dismissed five managers at the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) over irregularities in fertilizer distribution and contracts, according to sources exclusive to Zambia Reports.

Sources at the ministry of Agriculture says government terminated the contract of Chief Executive Officer Richard Soko, director finance Gilbert Sichamba, Purchasing and supply manager Eusavio Chanda, Human resource manager Austin Ng'andu and Fertilizer Input Support Programme (FISP) manager Danny Muzyambo.

According to information obtained, Government wants to retain suspended general manager Reuben Mulenga as Chief Executive at the government owned fertilizer processing plant.

Minister of Agriculture Emmanuel Chenda believes that the dismissed managers who have been "retired in national interest" were connected in the irregularities involving the fertilizer distribution program before the PF assumed office.

"In its first budget to the Agriculture sector, the PF government released Kr250 million (K250 billion) to the plant to help resuscitate its crumbling operations, but the money has not been dispensed until now. The government feels that these people were connected to corrupt activities and misappropriation of funds. So last week, they were issued with dismissal letters while others were retired in National interest," source said.

Zambia is seeking to privatize NCZ on grounds that revamping the plant was too expensive an undertaking for government.

But there are concerns that selling NCZ to a foreign company may be dangerous because the plant has the capacity and machinery required to manufacture bio-chemical weapons.

Three years ago, Egyptian investors expressed interest to take over the plant but the MMD government under then President Rupiah Banda turned down the offer.

Egyptian Ambassador to Zambia Salah El Sadek confirmed then, that the deal fell through because Zambia was not willing to proceed.

Last year, Chenda announced that NCZ would be allowed to produce fertilizer for the 2012-2013 seasons.

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