16 August 2013, Lusaka – A former Zambian Minister of Energy and Water Development, Kenneth Konga, Thursday told the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that his country’s government entered into an oil deal with the federal government because the oil was needed to run the country’s economy.
Konga, who is one of the state witnesses in a case in which former President Rupiah Banda, is charged with one-count of abuse of authority, said Zambia and Nigeria entered into a government-to-government crude oil deal because there was a shortage of fuel in the country at the time.
He was testifying in a matter in which Banda, 75, is charged with a one-count charge of abuse of office.
According to the Daily Mail of Zambia, the former president is alleged to have procured a US$2.5 million government-to-government oil contract with Nigeria in the name of the Republic of Zambia “which he in fact meant to benefit himself and his family.”
Konga, who is also a member of Parliament for Chavuma, said he played a role as Minister of Energy and Water Development in clinching the oil deal.
“The oil was needed to run the economy of Zambia. At that time, people had started protesting because of the shortage of fuel and as you know, oil is key to the running of the economy.
“This deal was initiated when former president Banda went to Nigeria on a state visit. During that visit, I had accompanied the president and I was instructed by him to follow up the issue until it was finalised,” he said.
Konga said when Banda left Nigeria for Zambia, he remained in the country to follow up the issue and wrote to the federal government to request for oil.
He said he was in Nigeria for nearly a week to ensure that the deal was signed.
“When I noticed that the response was delaying, I consulted the president and asked if I could leave the matter in the hands of Major Richard Kachingwe, who was deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria at the time.
“I left the country and came back to Zambia. I didn’t hear anything from Nigeria and the following year, I decided to undertake a private visit and I had to seek authority to travel from the president and he instructed me again to follow up the matter,” he said.
He said during his visit to Nigeria, he was introduced to Nigeria’s SARB Energy’s Managing Director, Akpan Ekpene, by Kachingwe so that he could help to fast-track the crude oil deal between Nigeria and the Zambian government.
Asked by Director of Public Prosecution, Mutembo Nchito, whether the deal was signed while he (Konga) was in Nigeria, he said he heard from Kachingwe that it was done.
He said he was thrilled by the news and he immediately informed the former president about it.
Konga, however, said he was so traumatised when the Government Joint Investigative Team, GJIT, raided his house to search for documents that he ended up with to have a stroke.
He also said he was not sure if the letter, which was picked up by the GJIT from his house was the original letter written by the former president to the Nigerian president at the time, late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Principal resident magistrate, Charles Kafunda, asked both the defence and the state for a brief meeting in his chambers for close to 10 minutes before he adjourned the case to October 21, 22, 23 and 25 for continuation of trial.