The acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda has refused to institute a tribunal to investigate allegations of corruption and abuse of office leveled against minister of tourism and Art Sylvia Masebo.
The judge has not given any reasons for the decision apart from stating that the petition for a tribunal by former minister of transport and communication William Harrington did not meet the benchmark.
The refusal is contained in a letter by acting deputy chief justice Florence Mumba who stated. “I am (Florence Mumba) directed to inform you that as the basis upon which to appoint a tribunal is not sufficient and does not meet the requirements of the relevant law, it is not possible for the acting chief justice to appoint a tribunal,” the letter dated 23 April 2013 read in part.
And petitioner Mr Harrington has expressed shock as it appeared that the acting Chief Justice Chibesakunda did not want members of the executive probed for misconduct, corruption and abuse of office offences.
Mr. Harrington said that the decision by the Acting Chief Justice Chibesakunda was quiet incomprehensive and extremely shocking as it was still contestable.
He said that her action was meant to defeat the corruption fight which was noted at the Ministry of Tourism in the manner Ms. Masebo handled the ZAWA matter.
“My initial response is that I feel that it is quiet incomprehensive and extremely contestable and I hope that the general public and other concerned citizens will be able to come up with their conclusion whether Justice Lombe Chibesakunda had made a political decision on this very important matter of national interest.
He said that the whole issue also provided a platform to compare the way the judiciary was being run by the Patriotic Front (PF) government compared to the previous MMD regime with respected the rule of law.
“It is therefore important that even students of law have an opportunity now to study this matter. It is a good case study for the students and other interested parties and the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has a huge challenge to interpret the law and to also take note of the matter at hand,” he said.
Mr. Harrington said that he would study the matter of which he intends to publish the documentary evidence gathered against Ms. Masebo in the manner she conducted herself at ZAWA.
“After I have stated the whole issue, I intend to publicly publish documentation evidence against Masebo because the action she took of removing Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) officials was very irregular and in total breach of the code of conduct for her office and position.There was no way charity Mwansa who is Tourism and Arts Permanent Secretary could have dismissed those people without following laid down procedures. I assume that the whole action was as a result of political pressure from Masebo and it was on that basis that I petitioned and why is she scared?” he said.“I have noted that this letter is dated 23 April 2013 before I lodged my complaint to the Judiciary Complaint Commission over the delay by the Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda to investigate the abuse of office by Minister of Tourism Sylvia Masebo as provided for by the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct.I have only got sight of this letter today upon my arrival from my village Senanga where I had gone, I however want to reflect and consult the next step of action I will take and its implication on the part of the Acting Chief Justice,” he said.