…the former Foreign Affairs Minister was not even in government at the time the need to purchase property arose, explains Accountant at Zambia’s Embassy in Ankara

Lusaka, Tuesday, November 14, 2023 (Smart Eagles)

A 50-year-old former Accountant at Zambia’s Embassy in Ankara, Sam Sankenga has told the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court that former Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon Joseph Malanji never got any money from Turkey.

Now an Accountant at Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lusaka, Mr Sankenga was in charge of Financial operations in the same capacity at Zambia’s Mission in Ankara from February 2014 to June 2022.

In this case, the former Minister and former Secretary to the Treasury Fred Yamba are jointly charged with willful failure to comply with procedure relating to procurement, and being in possession of property reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime.

When the matter came up today before Magistrate Irene Wishimanga who is sitting under the Economic and Financial Crimes Court, Mr Sankenga disclosed that the need to purchase property arose in 2014, the year that he had started working for the Mission in question.

He explained that what necessitated the move was the fact that government was spending more than US$70,000 in rentals monthly.

The witness further disclosed that Hon Malanji was not even in government the time the need to purchase the said property arose.

The Accountant testified that the former Minister had nothing to do with the purchase of the said property.

Asked if the decision to procure services of a Lawyer and Estate Agents in Turkey was done from the Embassy, the witness confirmed by saying “correct,” the entire process was done in liaison with the Ministerial Committee at Headquarters in Lusaka.

He added that the Minister is never part of the Ministerial Committee chaired by then Permanent Secretary for Administration Ronald Simwinga and the choice of the Lawyer and Vendor in Ankara had nothing to do with Hon Malanji.

“The procurement Committee at both the Embassy and in Lusaka had nothing to do with Hon Malanji,” he said, adding that “we negotiated ourselves.”

The witness revealed that offers from the Vendors were invited by the Embassy and were known by the Embassy.

Asked who decided to pick a Turkish Property management company, MITA, as the appropriate Vendor, Mr Sankenga said “the Ministerial Committee at Headquarters in Lusaka picked MITA and they sent a letter saying MITA has been picked.”

He also acknowledged that anybody that comes to Court and says the purchase was not approved would be lying.

The witness further said according to his knowledge, MITA was not known to Hon Malanji.

He also said Mr Burhan Asaf Safak, representing MITA under whose portfolio the properties were, confirmed receipt of $6,877,000 payment towards the purchase of properties.

Asked why at some point he was asked to accompany Mr Safak to the Bank, the witness said “the late Ambassador Joseph Chilengi instructed that I accompany him.”

His response to why Mr Safak used the Embassy Vehicle to carry some Money from the Bank was that it was for security reasons.

Mr Sankenga also disclosed that the money was not drawn from the Embassy account.

“I wouldn’t even know from which account it was drawn and for whatever reasons,” he said.

He said he knew the vehicle used by Safak was intended to transport people to the Airport.

Mr Sankenga said at no time did Hon Malanji use the vehicle that had the Money belonging to Safak.

“Hon Malanji was in Turkey to source for KCM buyers and had no interactions with Safak,” he explained.

He also acknowledged that there was no wrong done by the Embassy in the process.



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