Defence lawyer representing Chongwe Member of Parliament Sylvia Masebo in a case she is alleged to have abused her authority of office by firing five Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) officers and cancelling the hunting tender concession, has applied for perjury charges against former Tourism Ministry permanent secretary Charity Mwansa over conflicting evidence on oath.
Mr Robert Simeza made the application before Magistrate Ireen Wishimanga during cross-examination of the former permanent secretary after she admitted that the evidence she gave in court before an earlier Tribunal and the evidence on record before Ms. Wishimanga was inconsistent.
This came to light after Ms Mwansa, who is now a practising private lawyer, gave evidence on oath and in her testimony told the court that she was not the one who fired the former ZAWA senior officers because at the time she was signing the contract termination letters for the officers they were already dismissed and relieved of their duties by Masebo.
It was also on record that Ms Mwansa had said she only saw the contract termination letters dated December 31, 2012, in February 2013 and signed them when they were brought to her attention by the former ZAWA acting director general Ven Vhlahakis and ZAWA legal counsel Mr Kampamba Kombe when records from the tribunal indicated that she wrote and signed them on December 31, 2012.
Mr Simeza contended that it was his wish to make an application for perjury against Ms Mwansa who could be at liberty to show why she could not be cited for contempt by deliberately conflicting evidence on oath with intent to deceive and mislead the court.
He said her conflicting evidence clearly showed that her statements were contradictory and fell under Section 104 A which states that the court could commence a perjury procedure and a witness could show cause why she should not be punished, adding that the proceedings were serious and involved the rights of the accused.
Mr Simeza contended that if a witness could tell different stories in her testimony it was a matter that could not be glossed over but would need serious attention.
But State lawyer Makebi Zulu objected to the defence application, contending that it had come too early as the witness was still being cross-examined and based on restricted answers such a motion could not be moved as the procedure was for the witness to be re-examined to allow her give context to her answers so that clarity may be gained.
Mr Zulu said in assuming that it was possible to make such an application at that stage, the most important element was that the court needed to satisfy Section 104A and that the court or the tribunal must also be satisfied that the evidence was meant to deceive.
And Mr Bonniface Chiwala, a State prosecutor, also contended that Ms Mwansa still needed to be re-examined and the case to proceed without adjournments.
Ruling has been reserved to February 8, 2016, to determine whether or not the court should cite Ms Mwansa for perjury. If found guilty, Ms Mwansa could be liable to two years imprisonment.