High Court okays Masebo tribunal

The Lusaka High Court has thrown out the injunction by the State which stopped the setting of a tribunal to investigate the breach of the ministerial code of conduct and alleged corruption activities leveled against Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo.

The Court has ordered that the tribunal against Masebo should proceed as prayed for by former Minister of Transport William Harrington.

High Court Judge Dominic Sichinga yesterday lifted the Order of Stay the court had earlier granted to Attorney General Mumba Malila who had filed an injunction to block the Tribunal from commencing its sittings.

And Harrington has said he would be writing to the Acting Chief Justice so that  the tribunal could commence its sitings following the lifting of the stay by the State.

“I will officially lodge the letter to the chief Justice’s office  so that the tribunal goes on, now that the stay has been lifted,” Harrington said.

Judge Sichinga ruled that he did not agree with the State’s arguments that if the Judgment ordering the Supreme Court to constitute a Tribunal against Masebo was not stayed, the appeal in the Supreme Court over the tribunal would be rendered nugatory and an academic exercise.

Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda last year established a Tribunal to investigate Masebo over allegations of breaching the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct after the Tourism Minister fired five Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) directors and dissolved its board.

Masebo in 2013 fired ZAWA director general Edwin Matokwani and other directors that included conservation acting director Melody Zeko, commercial acting director Rose Chivumba, finance acting director Andrew Sampa and head of procurement Taulino Banda.

Justice Chibesakunda said in her letter to Harrington that the purpose of her setting the tribunal against Masebo was to consider the complaints against the Tourism Minister who has been accused of corruption in the awarding of hunting concession tenders.

The three-member Tribunal was to be chaired by Justice Royda Kaoma while Justice E.N Mukulwamutiyo and Justice Chalwe Mchenga were the members.

“This serves to inform you that I have appointed a Tribunal under the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct Act for the purposes of considering your complaints against Masebo who is the Minister of Tourism and Arts,” Justice Chibesakunda said.

Masebo becomes the second cabinet minister in the PF administration to face a tribunal over the breaching of parliamentary code of conduct after her counterpart Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba who was been probed by Judge Evans Hamaundu tribunal.

But the Tribunal could not take off because the State through the Attorney General had filed an injunction restraining the Tribunal from commencing its sittings as Judge Sichinga had stayed his own judgment which had given Harrington the right to be heard over his allegations against Masebo.