It is all a question of principle, morality and ethical conduct.
The decision by the Acting Chief Justice refusing to convene a Tribunal to investigate allegations of corruption and abuse of office by the Minister of Tourism and Art Sylvia Masebo raises many troubling questions.
The first question is simply a moral one.
When President Rupiah Banda was confronted with a similar question he was quick to allow the then Chief Justice Ernest Sakala convene a Tribunal to investigate then Minister of Transport and Communication Dorah Siliya.
He allowed the due process of law to apply because the court of public opinion, decency and good order demanded it of him.
We did not expect any less from President Michael Sata a man who is not only averse but is totally allergic to corruption.
The second question is legal.
The law sets out the manner in which a complaint is to be made and from all accounts and documentation Mr. Harrington has met the criteria and in the absence of a justification from the acting chief Justice it is impossible to know the grounds on which her decision was based.
This is not correct. The law is transparent and so should its application be. The charges by Mr. Harrington are very clear and straightforward. He has alleged and demanded that the tribunal should investigate five allegations which include Masebo’s breach of the Public Procurement Agency Act by interfering in the tender process when she cancelled duly awarded concession licenses by ZAWA .
It is common knowledge that among the many individuals dissatisfied by the cancelled aware were senior politicians who have direct and indirect business interest. The names are there and if the tribunal sat, these names would be mentioned.
Secondly he wanted the tribunal to investigate Masebo for alleged abuse of office, breach of the ZAWA Act when she fired top ZAWA management which legally should have been done by the ZAWA board.
Quite apart from that Mr. Harrington also wanted the tribunal to investigate Masebo’s pronouncements that foreign aircrafts were entering the Zambian airspace undetected to lift animals in breach of national security.
These are reasonable and cogent grounds to institute a tribunal whose result would have served to clear or indeed find her culpable.
She would also have been given a chance to extricate herself from allegations of corruption in handling of the hunting licenses.
In the absence of a Tribunal many questions arise. Is it an admission by the Government that there were indeed reasonable grounds to find Sylvia culpable as charged and that is why the tribunal was not instituted?
Obviously this matter is far from being over. Mr. Harrington has already been to the Judicial Complaints Authority, but many other options still exist. The UPND has suggested a Judicial Tribunal to test the validity of the Chief Justice decision.
We hope this will not come pass at it will bring the entire Judiciary into total disrepute.