By Mwaka Ndawa
FORMER Ministry of Finance permanent secretary in charge of budget and economic affairs Emmanuel Mulenga Pamu has told the court that former secretary to the treasury Fredson Yamba approved payment of more than K108 million to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the purchase of government property.
Dr Panu told the Economic and Financial Crimes Court that he processed the payment of the funds in question on the basis that it was endorsed by Yamba.
In this matter, Yamba, 62, is facing two counts of willful failure to comply with the law relating to management of public property when he approved the transfer of K154,201,197 to purchase a chancery in Turkey.
He is jointly charged with former foreign affairs minister Joseph Malanji who is facing three counts of possessing property suspected to be proceeds of crime.
It is alleged in count one that Yamba, on dates unknown but between January 1, 2020 and August 31, 2021, being a secretary to the treasury, whilst acting with other persons unknown allocated and authorised the transfer of K108,401,197 to the Zambian Mission account in Turkey for the procurement of real estate without following the law.
In the second count, it is alleged that Yamba, on dates unknown but between January 1, 2020 and August 31, 2021, being a secretary to the treasury, whilst acting together with other persons unknown, allocated and authorised the transfer of K45,800,000 to the Zambian Mission account in Turkey for the procurement of real estate without following the law.
It is alleged in the third and fourth count that Malanji, on dates unknown but between January 1, 2020 and August 31, 2021, possessed a BELL 430 helicopter and a BELL 206 Jet Ranger Helicopter Be which was reasonably suspected to be tainted.
It is further alleged in the fifth count that Malanji, between January 1, 2020 and August 31, 2021 possessed Royal Gibson Hotel, in Kitwe using dirty money.
Testifying before principal resident magistrate Jennifer Bwalya, Dr Pamu who is a governance advisor to the Bank of Zambia governor said in November 2021, he was approached by officers from the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) who wanted to find out the role he played in the approval of K108, 401,197 which was used to buy government property for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“I processed K108 million payment which was already approved through the office of the secretary to the treasury. The Accountant General processed payment and I signed on the movement of funds,” Dr Pamu said. “I signed on the basis that payment was approved by the Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba in November 2020. I didn’t look at who requested, I focused on the processing side because my assumption was that the request was on an MPSA and payment had been approved. I worked on the strength of the memo which was approved by the office of the Secretary to the Treasury. I never saw any document apart from the memo.”
Dr Pamu said money was funded from control 99 to the treasury single account and then to the ministry, provinces and other spending agencies (MPSA)
“There was a memo which was a thesis to process the payment, it was generated by the principal accountant – budget and implementation,” he said.
He told the court that if there was a request for funds after the national budget for a specific year has been approved, the applicant was requested to make an application in the next budget.
“There are contingencies and emergencies that happen, for example when drugs have to be bought, there are alternatives to ensure emergencies are attended to. Within the budget there is a radical contingency where we draw resources for such emergencies. There is broader consultation with government to source funds to deal with those emergencies,” said Dr Pamu. “If the funds are not enough, we request for a supplementary budget to spend more than what was allocated. We go back to parliament to seek approval for additional resources or sufficient expenditure.”
Earlier, the court denied an application by Yamba’s lawyers, Robert Simeza and Luckson Mwamba, to have the indictment quashed on reasons that it was defective as it did not disclose laws relating to the management of public property.
Trial continues on May 11.
Former secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba leaving the Magistrate Court Complex
Picture by Mwaka Ndawa