We were fired by Masebo -Ex-ZAWA chief

FORMER Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) director general Edwin Matokwani has told the Lusaka Magistrates Court that it was former Minister of Tourism Sylvia Masebo who fired him and four other  senior ZAWA officers in 2012 on corruption allegations.

Mr Matokwani said this during cross examination when the matter came up for continuation of trial before Magistrate Irene Wishimanga.

He said Ms Masebo allegedly breached  the law when she single-handedly fired  the five ZAWA directors  and cancelled the hunting safari tender that was floated for the public to bid for concession hunting licences.

Mr Matokwani said during his tenure of office as a director general, he did not hear of any ZAWA staff taken to court or charged for any corrupt practices.

He told the court that Ms Masebo did not even know the operations of ZAWA,  adding that the Tourism minister had no powers to dismiss the officers as they were employees of the wildlife law enforcement agency and not Government.

Asked by the defence lawyer Robert Simeza to confirm whether it was Masebo who authored and signed on his termination of employment letter, Mr Matokwani said the letter was written and signed by then permanent secretary Charity Mwansa but under the instructions of her superior Masebo.

But Mr Simeza argued that according to the termination of employment letter it was not his client Masebo who wrote to Matokwani and that the only role that Masebo played was to announce the cancellation of hunting concession and the employment status of the five ZAWA officers.

But in re-examination, the State prosecutor challenged the defence lawyer when he referred to a letter written by Masebo to then President Michael Sata stating that she had relieved the five ZAWA officers of their duties and she was recommending for them to be retired either in public or national interest.

And when Mr Matokwani was asked to interpret what was written in the letter addressed to the President by Masebo, Mr Matokwani said it was clearly indicated that the former minister had dismissed them, adding that at the time she wrote that letter to the head of State she had already relieved him and the four others of their duties.

The case was adjourned to November 24 for continued trial.