Chief Justice sued

The refusal by acting Chief Justice Chibesakunda to appoint a tribunal to investigate allegations of corruption and abuse of office levelled against Ms Masebo was illegal and ultra vires, former Transport Minister William Harrington has told the Lusaka High Court.
According to the leave of application for Judicial Review filed yesterday, Mr Harrington stated that section 13 (3) of the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of conduct Act, chapter 16 of the laws of Zambia was very clear that Ms Masebo committed breaches that merited the establishment of the Tribunal.
According to Mr Harrington, Justice Chibesakunda had no discretion in the matter other than constituting the tribunal, following the complaint because it was only the tribunal once appointed that had discretion to determine whether the complainant was frivolous or not.
He said that the only role the Chief Justice was supposed to play was to notify the President and the Speaker of the National Assembly of the allegations and to appoint the tribunal.
Mr Harrington insisted that the demand by the acting Chief Justice to be furnished with facts which would make out a prima facie case before appointing a tribunal was contrary to the administrative role that she was supposed to play according to Section 13(1) of the Act.“It is contended that the acting Chief Justice abdicated her administrative responsibilities by her reticence to appoint the tribunal because it is her administrative duty, as the occupant of the office of the chief justice to appoint a tribunal once she is in receipt of allegations of breaches of the code of conduct by a member,” he explained.
He said there was impropriety in the manner in which Justice Chibesakunda handled the complaint by demanding for the facts that could be presented when the tribunal was appointed.
“The decision of the acting Chief Justice has adversely affected the interests of the applicant and the taxpaying public at large hence the acting chief justice has acted unfairly by making the decision not to appoint the tribunal when her predecessor, Justice Ernest Sakala promptly appointed the Dennis Chirwa led tribunal to investigate allegations of corruption and abuse of office levelled against the then Minister of Communication and Transport Ms Dora Siliya, upon receipt of complaint from the applicant,” the application read.