Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo has confessed that she ignored the legal advice from Attorney General Mumba Malila and Solicitor General Musa Mwenye against the cancellation of the 19 Zambia Wildlife Life Authority (ZAWA) Safari hunting concessions.
And Masebo yesterday blew her top and accused Makebi Zulu, one of the lawyers representing former minister of transport and communications William Harrington of being part of the cartel that was fighting for her downfall. She has warned Zulu to be careful of unspecified consequences.
Masebo has also accused the Daily Nation and former Defence Minister Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba of having connived through stories to influence the establishment of a tribunal to investigate her.
But she also admitted that she did not consult Mwamba popularly known as GBM when he was minister of Defence before making an alarming statement that some foreign aircrafts were violating Zambian air space and were allegedly airlifting Zambian wildlife to some unknown destination.
Meanwhile, Masebo has claimed that all government investigative wings including the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Office of the President (Special Division) was highly infiltrated by what she termed the ‘Mafioso’ working against the Patriotic Front (PF) government.
Testifying before the Judge Rhoyda Kaoma chaired Tribunal investigating her over allegations of breach of the State Security Act and abuse of authority, Masebo said Malila and Mwenye, who are Attorney General and Solicitor General respectively, had advised her that she had no power to cancel the tender for the 19 hunting blocks.
Masebo also admitted that she had no power to fire former ZAWA director general Edwin Matokwani along with his four subordinate directors and that it was President Michael Sata who had director her to dismiss the officials without following the authority’s grievances procedure.
Masebo who was constantly being restrained from getting personal against Zulu who was cross examining her, implicated President Sata that he had ordered the dismissal of the five directors at ZAWA because they had ignored her directive to consider the Patriotic Front (PF) manifesto as a criteria of selecting successful bidders and their alleged failure to include traditional leaders in the evaluation process.
Masebo testified that Malila and Mwenye had advised that if there were plans to cancel the ZAWA tender by government, she should have avoided her direct and visible presence in the process because it was against the provisions of the Zambia Public Procurement Agency (ZPPA) Act.
She revealed that soon after being appointed Tourism and Arts Minister, she consulted Vice-President Guy Scott to assist her assemble an advisory committee that included Asherwood Keithian, Guy Robinson, the current ZAWA board chairman and Timothy Mushibwe who were involved in the amendment of the tender document. She told the Tribunal that former ZAWA board chairman Larry Kalala told her that the Attorney General had advised that her involvement in the procurement process at ZAWA was illegal and should therefore not get involved.
“Mr Kalala (former ZAWA board chairman) talked to the Attorney General Mumba Malila over the intention to cancel the tender and his advice was that we should not. He also advised us to seek the advice of the Solicitor general and I spoke to him. He told me that I should not directly get involved but that I should direct the director general to take the action. The tender was cancelled anyway and what I did was government position,” Masebo said.
Masebo said before announcing the dismissal of Matokwani, Melody Zeko, Taulino Banda, Rose Chivumba and Andrew Sampa, she was in close consultation with President Sata and that he had ordered her to do what she termed the needful.
She said ZAWA had a lot of financial challenges because it had allegedly been mismanaged by the Matokwani administration adding had it been a private company, it would have been liquidated.
And Masebo yesterday personally attacked Makebi Zulu who had put her on the stand for four hours accusing him of being a member of the cartel that was working against her success in the PF government.
“The schemes by the Daily Nation and How they went to former Defence Minister to build a case and get me into trouble are known.
The Daily Nation has a way of manipulating stories and the created a good story for a tribunal. May God save you the cartel,’ Masebo said.
After more than eight hours in the dock, Masebo told the Tribunal that she was tired and became hostile.