Sata not always meticulous-Masebo

Tourism Minister Sylvia Masebo has said that President Michael is not always meticulous in his discharge of presidential functions and that is why some of the decisions he makes are not communicated through written correspondence.

Masebo has told the Judge Rhoyda Kaoma Tribunal investigating her misconduct in the cancellation of the 19 Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) Safari hunting tender that President Sata did not always communicate his directives in writing.

In continued cross examination by Makebi Zulu, one of the lawyers representing former transport and communications minister William Harrington, Masebo testified that the instructions from President Sata to cancel the ZAWA tender and the firing of its five directors was communicated to her verbally.

Masebo testified that before she called for a press briefing where she announced the cancellation of the ZAWA tender and the termination of the contracts of its director general Edwin Matokwani along with his four subordinate directors, she had sent her statement to President Sata who she claimed approved her action.

When shown a retirement letter President Sata wrote to a senior superintendent police officer by Makebi Zulu and asked to confirm that the Head of State was in fact a meticulous leader in the exercise of his presidential functions and that he always did so through written correspondence, Masebo responded that there was nothing meticulous about how the Head of State communicated his decisions.

She told the Tribunal that the Head of State could chose the form of issuing his directives and one form was through verbal communication adding that the President could chose to terminate or relieve officials of their duties using any other mode of communication than writing.

“It is not always that the President would be meticulous and I see nothing about the letter the President wrote to the police officer retiring him. He (Sata) can choose any form to terminate or relieve officials of their duties,” Masebo said.

And Masebo said she had decided to dissolve the ZAWA board that was appointed by Kabwata Member of Parliament (MP) the then Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism Given Lubinda because she did not want to be undermined.

Masebo said the Larry Kalala led ZAWA board was dissolved because she wanted to work with her preferred board without feeling undermined.

The Tourism Minister also said it was not mandatory that ministers were expected to religiously follow the guidelines of the Cabinet Handbook.

She admitted that it was true that some of the members that formed her advisory committee were bidders in the cancelled tender adding she only came to know about their businesses in the wildlife sector much later because she did not have personal interaction with the Safari hunters.

She said it was Vice-President Guy Scott who introduced her to Timothy Mushibwe who later brought in Guy Robinson as one of her advisors on wildlife. Robinson has since become the ZAWA board chairman and his son Gavin was one of the bidders in the tender that was cancelled.

Masebo also denied assertions that Dr Scott had approved the illegal exportation of Sables saying the Vice-President was never involved in the deal.

And Manus Simwanza, the current head of procurement at ZAWA told the Tribunal that Masebo had no direct powers to cancel the 19 Safari hunting concession tender unless she was a member of the tender committee.

Simwanza said since Masebo was not a member of the tender committee, it was wrong for her to have directly involved herself in the cancellation of the tender.

The Tribunal which should have concluded yesterday has been extended to Monday as it has subpoenaed an official from the Zambia Public Procurement Agency (ZPPA) as the last witness.