…tells Court that the purchase of property in Turkey was a collective decision of the procurement committee at Ministry of Foreign Affairs chaired by then PS Ronald Simwinga

Lusaka, Wednesday, June 7, 2023 ( Smart Eagles)

In a case were former Foreign Affairs minister Joe Malanji and former Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba are charged with willful failure to comply with procedure relating to procurement, and being in possession of property reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime, a witness has confessed that there was nothing wrong with Ministry of Finance making payment for purchase of property in question.

Tamara Ngoma, then Director of Finance at Ministry of Foreign Affairs, revealed that the purchase of the said property had been considered by procurement committee chaired by the then Ministry’s Permanent Secretary whom she identified as Ronald Simwinga.

Ms Ngoma said Hon Malanji and Mr Yamba were not part of the Committee and had nothing to do with the decisions of the Committee.

She testified before Magistrate Irene Wishimanga who is sitting under the Economic and Financial Crimes Court that procurement had already made the decision to purchase property and what was remaining was to consider approval by the Attorney General.

The witness added that the accused persons were not part of the Ministerial Procurement Committee which sat on a weekly basis to consider submissions.

She elaborated that minutes were taken during the meetings.

“As Director Finance, I together with others equally agreed to the purchase of the property. PS Simwinga chaired the meetings where the agreements were reached. The procedure on head 17 related to the payroll, Allowances and running of missions had nothing to do with the procurement of property,” she said.

And asked during Cross Examination how audits are conducted, Ms Ngoma said “having 40 missions, it was not possible to go to all the missions. I am aware of the Audit Ankara and the instruction to audit Ankara mission came from the PS to the Principal,” she said.

“The time the audit was being done, the matter was already in the hands of the Security and our hands were tied. Had it not been in the hands of the Security, we would have clarified that there was nothing wrong with the manner funds were transmitted.”

In explaining her involvement in the matter, Ms Ngoma said “I recall that the Head Procurement made a submission on Ankara, Turkey, with an intention to procure a Chancery.. Legal Counsel for the Ministry was present , and when the document was presented, there was a debate which went on, and after the debate, there was advice by the Legal Counsel to the Committee that this request needed to be cleared by the Attorney General’s Chambers,” she said.

The witness further narrated that after the meeting, the team that was assigned did their work and that was the end of the procurement role.

She stated that she then went on leave and upon coming back, she was informed by her subordinate that Ministry of Finance had funded the procurement of property in Turkey.


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