FORMER Tourism Minister Slyvia Masebo may still be found culpable of abuse of authority of office if the judicial review over the tribunal findings which cleared her, finds that the officers she appointed at the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) obtained pecuniary advantage through salaries and other allowances.
This follows the Lusaka High Court’s decision to go ahead with the judicial review in the matter in which Ms Masebo was cleared of allegations of abuse of office.
Ms Masebo was probed by a tribunal after former Minister of Communications and Transport William Harrington complained that she breached the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct when she dismissed ZAWA management.
Judge Mungeni Mulenga rejected a preliminary issue by Attorney General’s chambers asking the court to dismiss Mr Harrington’s application for judicial review over the tribunal’s findings which cleared Ms Masebo of allegations.
Mr Harrington was a petitioner in the Rhoyda Kaoma-led Tribunal appointed to investigate Ms Masebo’s alleged professional misconduct but the tribunal cleared her of the allegation.
In her ruling last Friday, the judge said the matter would proceed in the usual manner for the sustainable hearing of judicial proceedings.
Ms Justice Mulenga said that the proper cause would be to duly consider the judicial review application to fully determine all matters in contention.
“Although on the face of it (Mr Harrington’ s application) seems to appear as if it seeks to substitute the decision of the tribunal, there are a few aspects or relief that fall within the ambit of judicial review,” she said.
Mr Harrington wants the court to determine whether the new office bearers at Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) appointed by Ms Masebo obtained pecuniary advantage from her action.
The tribunal cleared Ms Masebo stating that she did not gain any pecuniary advantage from her actions but Mr Harrington, was not satisfied with the findings.
Mr Harrington said the tribunal having upheld that the new officers at ZAWA were entitled to remuneration, was in itself pecuniary advantage which resulted from Ms Masebo’s action.
He said that the tribunal should have proceeded to find that the Chongwe Member of Parliament breached the Parliamentary and Ministerial
But the Attorney General’s chamber raised preliminary issues asking the court to dismiss Mr Harrington’s application saying the tribunal decision was not amenable to a judicial review.
The State argued that Mr Harrington wanted the court to overrule the decision of the tribunal and replace it with another.
It also argued that the tribunal was instituted to investigate the conduct of the minister rather than adjudicate as such it was not amenable to judicial review proceedings
The Attorney General said Mr Harrington was trying to make the court, a court of appeal even when he knew that if the court found that the decision of the tribunal was wrong, it cannot change its decision.
Mr Harrington in response said he was not seeking to reverse the decision of the tribunal but to have it quashed because the court had powers to quash any decision of a tribunal.