The mounting pressure on acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda to resign is not surprising, says former Transport Minister William Harrington has said.
Mr Harrington that the pressure on Justice Chibesakunda to resign comes as little surprise following her glaring “protectionist” stance by refusing to appoint a tribunal to investigate allegations of abuse of office levelled against Tourism Minister Sylvia Masebo.
He said that Justice Chibesakunda had not acted in the best public interest and thereby provoked the law by failing to commence judicial review proceedings in the High Court of Zambia to challenge her negative decision and to seek an Order of Mandamus that will compel her to appoint a tribunal as provided by law.
He stated that the Chief Justice should have acted in the normal way and not to be seen to openly protect some individuals in order to please her appointing authority.
Mr Harrington said Justice Chibesakunda was supposed to show example by appointing a tribunal to investigate Ms Masebo who removed senior Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) staff from office in breach of the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct Act.
“Notwithstanding that, I fully complied with provisions of the Act as a complainant. The Acting Chief Justice opted instead to demand that I provide her office with sworn affidavits from my witnesses so as to enable her to establish a prima facie case against Ms Masebo. This condition is not specified in the Act,” he said.
Mr Harrington claimed that justice Chibesakunda was showing reluctance on law, adding that the country needed a leader who respected and observed the rule of law.
“Whereas the Act also clearly defines that the role of the Chief Justice is to merely receive the written complaint and thereafter to inform the Republican President and the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Acting Chief Justice rather strangely assumed the role of a tribunal by unreasonably demanding witness statements. Somehow, the Acting Chief Justice assumed the role of a “one-member tribunal,” he said.
Mr Harrington said although the process to have Ms Masebo investigated had suffered a slight setback in the past weeks, the process was slowly but surely on course and said he was determined to bring it to its logical conclusion.
He said following his consultations with various stakeholders including Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) the process in the appointment of a tribunal in the matter of Ms Sylvia Masebo was mishandled.
“I am praying that the matter will be dealt with expeditiously so that Ms Masebo is given a timely opportunity to clear her name well before the forthcoming United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Conference scheduled for August this year.