Masebo Tribunal, Harrington free to call witnesses

The Tribunal set up to investigate Minister of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo has allowed William Harrington to call witnesses of his choice, unlike the Judge Evans Hamaundu Tribunal that has just cleared Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba, where the calling of the witnesses was the strict preserve of the tribunal

The Judge Rhoyda Kaoma Tribunal which will commence its sitting on Monday yesterday laid the ground rules in which it allowed the petitioner and the defendants to make available witnesses of their choices.

Judge Kaoma said the Tribunal to investigate Masebo shall be bound by the rules of the Enquiries Act and that it will consider the relevance of the evidence to the allegations in its hearing.

Judge Kaoma cautioned the parties that she will not entertain failure to call witnesses stating that she would not be forced to adjourn the sittings on account of parties failing to make available witneeses.

She pledged that for the witneses that the parties would be unable to call, the Tribunal was ready to facilitate their calling so that the proceedings should not be delayed.

She has asked the parties to submit the lists of witnesses they were intending to call so that the Tribunal could summon them immediately before the sittings commence on Monday.

She said parties should be aware that the Tribunal was not going to put Masebo on trial but would only investigate allegations and make recommendations to the President.

“I wish to indicate that the Tribunal will start its sittings on Monday and there is need for us to lay ground rules for us to agree how we are going to proceed. Both sides will have to call their own witness and the Tribunal will be available to facilitate calling of witnesses. We have 20 days in which to finish the hearing and another 20 days will be for the Tribunal to prepare a report to be presented to the President and the Speaker. So we shall be sitting everyday from 09:00 hours to 18:0 hours but we shall be breaking for a one hour lunch,” Judge Kaoma said.

And Lawyers representing Harrington have said they would be calling 12 witnesses five of whom would have to be subpoenaed by the Tribunal because they were officers from Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) and Ministry of Tourism and Arts.

Gilbert Phiri, one of the layers representing Harrington said his team would be calling 12 witnesses and asked the Tribunal to subpoena five witnesses because they were officers in government.

Phiri also requested the Tribunal to facilitate the calling of critical documents that were in the custody of ZAWA and Ministry of Tourism to which Judge Kaoma was agreeable.

Harrington is being represented by Makebi Zulu, Gilbert Phiri and Keith Mweemba while Masebo is being represented by Bonaventure Mutale of Elis & Company, Michael Mundashi and Robert Simeza.

And Masebo’s lawyers attempted to revise the terms of reference under which Acting Chief Justice Chibesakunda appointed the Tribunal by suggesting that some of the matters Harrington had raised were beyond the jurisidiction of the Tribunal.

Simeza argued that Harrington who is the complainant had raised several matters to the Tribunal some of which he said were beyond the jurisdiction of the Tribunal.

Simeza cited allegations such as the breach of the Security Act, Parliamentary and Ministrial Code of Conduct and Corruption as matters that the Tribunal could not investigate.

But Judge Kaoma ruled that the Tribunal was established on the same allegations which formed the terms of reference and was therefore going to investigate and get the relevant evidence.