Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba yesterday admitted that he had used a government opinion rendered to him by Solicitor General Musa Mwenye for private use to promote the interest of the Patriotic Front (PF).
Kabimba has also admitted having caused the transmission of a government legal opinion he had obtained from Solicitor General to PF lawyers Ellis & Co, the PF lawyers, President Michael Sata and Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda.
Kabimba who was yesterday in the dock at the Tribunal established to investigate him on breach of oath of secrecy and abuse of office confessed that the PF was a private club and that no law had been passed to make it an affiliate of government although it was the party in government.
The Justice Minister surprised the petitioners when he disclosed he was keeping PF stationary in a government office and that the letter he wrote to the ruling party lawyers was in fact drafted in a government office.
In a four and half hour cross examination by his lawyers and the respondents’ lawyers, Kabimba said he did not see anything wrong in keeping PF stationary in a government office at the Ministry of Justice.
He admitted before Judge Evans Hamaundu sitting with Justices Gertrude Chawatama and Justine Chashi that there was a distinction between his functions as Justice Minister and PF secretary general but that the functions could be interfaced depending on the circumstances.
Kabimba was at pains to explain how he found it appropriate to merge the functions the Ministry of Justice and of of PF secretary general when the era of the party and its government had been discarded.
He said he got government legal opinion from Solicitor General as Minister of Justice and transmitted the same opinion to Ellis & Co on a PF letterhead and copied the letter to President Sata and Acting Chief Justice in his capacity as secretary general of the PF.
He also confessed that the oath of secrecy did not at any time confer on him any other title apart from that of being Justice Minister and that the oath did not permit him as secretary general of the PF to convert government opinion or any other information for private use.
Kabimba admitted that the oath of secrecy was restrictive on the use of government information and that being a minister and seeking permission from the President were the only exceptions under which government information could be used outside the provisions of the oath of secrecy.
“I did seek legal opinion from the Solicitor General Musa Mwenye because he was the easiest to contact because I did not know where the Attorney General was. It is true that I transmitted government legal opinion rendered to me as Justice Minister to Ellis & Co who have done very well in clearing all the MP’s who were corruptly elected. Yes sir, the oath of secrecy does not confer on me any other title apart from that of minister and yes sir, the oath does not permit me to use government information for private use. It is true that the functions of the Minister of Justice and those of the secretary general are separate but because of the duality of the functions, they complement each other,” Kabimba said.
Kabimba also shocked the petitioners when he told the Judge Hamaundu Tribunal that the discharge of his duties was not on account of the oaths he had sworn as nominated Member of Parliament and Minister of Justice.
He said the position of secretary general of the PF was not part of the government structure and that there was no law that had made the ruling party part of government.Kabimba further admitted that any attempt by politicians to interfere with the judiciary was frowned upon by the Constitution adding the Judges in the High Court and Supreme Court do not seek legal advice from the Solicitor General or the Attorney General. Kabimba is being represented by Bonaventure Mutale, Willie Mubanga, Dr John Mulilwa, Abraham Mwansa and Eddy Mumba while Lucky Mulusa and Brebner Changala who are the petitioners are being represented by Makebi Zulu, Gilbert Phiri, Keith Mweemba and Nganga Yalenga
Sittings continue today.