The Government decision to stop the Judiciary from constituting a Tribunal to investigate Minister of Tourism Sylvia Masebo who has been accused of abrogating the Ministerial code has been described as illegal, unconstitutional and ultravires.
And Narep President Elias Chipimo said if indeed it was true that the President had stopped the setting up of a Tribunal it would amount to executive interference with the Judiciary and would further reinforce the concerns about the complete lack of commitment to the rule of law by the PF Government.
He further said that the Chief Justice had an obligation to explain why she did not intend to set up a tribunal, ” That information must be communicated to the public” he said.
According to the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of conduct Act chapter 16 of the Laws of Zambia at part IV (3) it was a mandatory by law that a tribunal be appointed by the Chief Justice where a formal application had been made as was the case in the one proposed to investigate Ms Masebo.
The law further states that “The Chief Justice shall notify the President and the speaker of the allegation and shall appoint a tribunal in accordance with section fourteen to investigate the allegation.”
Government sources have revealed that the acting Chief Justice has been directed to abandon any steps towards the constitution of a tribunal to investigate Ms Masebo following her decision to dismiss officers from the Zambia Wildlife Authority and to cancel duly awarded hunting concessions which had been allocated by tender procedures approved by the Zambia Procurement Authority.
Former Transport Minister William Harrington has again written to the office of the Chief Justice to press for the institution of the Tribunal having fulfilled all the requirements as provided by law.
In his re-application submitted to the office of the Acting Chief Justice, Harrington presented a list of fourteen persons who could be subpoenaed by the tribunal for purposes of verifying print and electronic media publications on the matter.
“In my re application for appointment of a tribunal, I made a proposal that the allegations leveled against Masebo could be verified by way of 14 witness to be summoned to appear before the tribunal to testify in the investigations. In appreciating your very busy schedule of late, I am however concerned that I have not been favoured with any response from your Honourable office since my latest communication now nine days ago,” reads part of the letter.
Mr Harrington quoted the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct Act chapter 16 of the Laws of Zambia at part IV (3) which states that “The Chief Justice shall notify the President and the Speaker of the allegation and shall appoint a tribunal in accordance with section fourteen to investigate the allegation.”
He said it was a mandatory by law that a tribunal be appointed by the Chief Justice where a formal application had been made as the case in the one proposed to investigate Ms Masebo.
Mr Harrington resubmitted his application to the office of the Chief Justice on February 8, 2013, and was still waiting for the response.