Ruling party MPs yesterday united their forces to defend Permanent Secretary Eliakim Maswi in his decision to award Puma Energy (T) Limited a multibillion tender to supply heavy funnel oil to Independent Power Tanzania Limited (IPTL) plant for emergency power generation.
A section of opposition MPs also rallied behind the motion to defend the embattled PS, earlier accused of awarding the Sh13 billion tender to Puma Energy without observing regulations laid out in the Public Procurements Act.
The rare move came amid allegations that some oil companies have bribed unnamed legislators to oust the PS and the Minister for Energy and Minerals.
However to some MPs, the show of unity was but double-standards in the fight against corruption, though they couldn’t come out strongly to defend their position.
The defense from MPs came two days after the CCM party caucus met on Wednesday to get a briefing from Minister Sospeter Muhongo and Permanent Secretary Maswi over the matter.
It was Shadow Minister for Energy and Minerals John Mnyika who was the first to defend the permanent secretary when presenting the opposition’s views on the ministry’s estimates tabled earlier by Prof Muhongo.
Mnyika told the House that the decision taken by Maswi to award Puma Energy was made in the interest of the nation as other bidders quoted higher prices compared to Puma though Puma did not bid.
Joseph Selasini (Rombo-Chadema) strongly accused his fellow MPs of receiving bribes from oil dealers to crucify Prof Muhongo and Maswi ostensibly for violating the Public Procurement Act, 2004.
Selasini said some MPs from both camps have, in the past week, been planning to convince other MPs to work together to ensure the two leaders at the ministry were removed for denying other companies a golden opportunity to reap billions of shillings in heavy funnel oil supply to IPTL.
The opposition MP said the decision made by Maswi enabled the government to save Sh 6 billion in a month. According to Mnyika’s speech, the companies that complained allegedly for being denied an opportunity to benefit from the tender are Oryx and Camel Oil.
Anne Kilango Malecela (Same East-CCM),Vicky Kamata (Special Seats-CCM) and Diana Chilolo (Special Seats-CCM) defended Maswi and Prof Muhongo for displaying patriotism.
The MPs wanted the Tanesco management to be overhauled for misuse of public office.
Earlier on Minister Muhongo said the government will announce the new sites for oil and gas exploration in September this year in Huston, Texas in the United States as part of its efforts to explore the resources.
The sites to be announced through the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) are those that are have not yet attracted exploration companies.
According to the minister, there are 18 gas and oil exploration companies operating in the country’s offshore and deep sea sites under 26 Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs).
The gas and oil exploration companies undertaking activities in deep sea sites include BG Group and Ophir of UK, ExxonMobil from the US, Dominion of Australia, Mubadala from the United Arab Emirates, Petrobras from Brazil, Shell from the Netherlands and Statoil of Norway.
The minister said in 2011/12 financial year the government through TPDC signed five Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) with Heritage to conduct exploration on Lake Rukwa and Kyela Basin, Petrobras to conduct exploration on Block No 8 near Mafia and Swala Oil and Gas (T) to conduct exploration on Kilosa and Pangani basins.