THE Lusaka Magistrate Court yesterday heard that former State House special assistant for press and public relations, Richard Sakala, allegedly influenced the sale of an Indeco Estates property to a private company.
This is in a case in which Sakala is charged with abuse of authority of office involving the sale of a Presidential Housing Initiative (PHI) house at a discounted fee to a non-eligible person.
He is alleged to have sold the house to a non-sitting tenant at a discounted price of K16 million while he was PHI chairperson.
Sakala is also charged with executing a valuable security by false pretences.
In the third count, Sakala is charged with a Mrs Nelly Mwila for forgery.
State witness George Chanda said in examination in chief that Sakala intervened in the sale of the Indeco Estates property when he was chairperson of the companyâ€™s board of directors.
He was led before senior resident magistrate Sharon Newa.
yesterday by Task Force on Corruption public prosecutor, Godfrey Kayuka.
Mr Chanda, 42, of 3292 Woodlands, Lusaka, who is former Indeco Estates chief executive officer, said Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company previously occupied the property in question, situated on Haile Selassie Avenue in Longacres area.
â€œAfter Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company vacated, we decided to dispose of the property. We approached the board of directors to inform them that we have decided to dispose of the property. Our request was not approved,â€ Mr Chanda said.
He said the board later asked management to find a tenant to rent the property.
â€œAfter sometime, we found a tenant in the name of Danielâ€™s Restaurant,â€ Mr Chanda said.
He said after sometime, Sakala informed him that the UN was interested in the property and that the Zambian Government was under obligation to surrender the property to the UN.
He said Sakala further told him that the UN would get the property without paying for it.
â€œAs management, we were not happy because we needed money for the company. Instead of surrendering the property to the UN, we decided to dispose of the property immediately,â€ Mr Chanda said.
He said one of the conditions of sale was that would-be buyers should be Zambian.
â€œUnder normal circumstances, when the property has a tenant, first offer should be given to such tenant who enjoys the right of first refusal,â€ Mr Chanda said.
He explained that Indeco had difficulties in offering the property to Danielâ€™s Restaurant because the owners were non-Zambians.
He said the company could not advertise the property for sale to the public â€œbecause we were fearing that people who were interested in getting it for free would know that we were selling it.â€
It was at this point that Sakala offered to identify someone who could buy the property and later identified Joritas Enterprises Limited.
Mr Chanda said Joritas offered to buy the property at K140 million and that Indeco accepted the offer and engaged M Musaluke Advocates to prepare the contract of sale.
â€œAfter paying the purchase price in full, they (Joritas) advised us through their lawyer that the property should be transferred in the name Helen Mumba Waynes,â€ he said.
Mr Chanda said as chief executive officer and director, he prepared and executed an assignment for sale and a Mr Chewe, who was company secretary and finance manager, signed it.
He said Indeco started selling its properties following a Government directive.
Mr Chanda said once an offer for sale was made and paid in full, the property should be transferred in the name of a person who had purchased it.
He also said all the properties were valued by independent consultants.
Earlier, Cabinet Office permanent secretary for administration, Oliver Kalabo, testified on Sakalaâ€™s appointment into the public service.
Mr Kalabo, 45, of plot 1306, Lilayi, said Sakala was appointed as State House special assistant for press and public relations in January 1992.
He said Sakala was later appointed PHI chairperson after a cabinet decision.
The matter was adjourned to October 8, 2007 for continued trial.
And former Minister of Lands, Gladys Nyirongo appeared for mention in a corruption case involving alleged illegal allocation of land.
The matter was adjourned to September 24, 2007 for commencement of trial.