Masebo to face tribunal

The Lusaka High Court has ordered Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda to constitute a tribunal to probe corruption charges levelled against Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo.

High Court Judge Dominic Sichinga in his ruling delivered in Lusaka yesterday said the decision by Justice Lombe Chibesakunda not to constitute a tribunal to probe corruption charges against Masebo was ultra vires.

Former Transport and Communications Minister William Harrington had early this year dragged Masebo to the High Court on allegations of abuse of office after she had unilaterally dissolved the Zambia Wildlife Authority board and dismissed its executive.

The tribunal should investigate allegations of breaches of the ZAWA Act no. 12 of 1998, the Ministerial Code of conduct and abuse of office in the cancellation of hunting concession licences.

Judge Sichinga ruled that the applicant (Harrington) was thorough in his submissions and that it was therefore within the law for the Acting Chief Justice to constitute a tribunal to investigate her allegations.

The court supported the submission by Harrington’s lawyer Gilbert Phiri where he stated that it was not in order for the manner in which Justice Chibesakunda handled the complaint by demanding for the facts out a prima facie case before appointing a tribunal according to Section 13(1) of the Act.

And Harrington said that the outcome of the decision by the high court landmark judgement  had provided Masebo opportunity to defend herself before the tribunal.

Harrington said that he proposed the tribunal in the public interest for the good governance of the country, so that public offices were not abused for the benefit of the nation.

Justice Chibesakunda had earlier refused constitute a tribunal to probe corruption charges against Masebo.

Former Transport Minister Harrington later filed a complaint in the Lusaka High Court against Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda for refusing to institute a tribunal to investigate Tourism Minister Sylvia Masebo over corruption allegations.

Harrington had argued that he had decided to file an application in the High Court for judicial review to challenge Justice Chibesakunda’s decision because he felt justice could only prevail if Ms Masebo also was given a chance to tell her side of the story.

The proposed tribunal to investigate Ms Masebo attracted support from various stakeholders, including the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ).