Masebo loses Makebi removal fight

Chongwe Member of Parliament Sylvia Masebo has lost a matter in which she had asked the court to remove private prosecutor Makebi Zulu from prosecuting her citing conflict of interest.

Ms Masebo argued that since she was a member of the UPND, she could not be prosecuted by a person who had applied to contest as a Member of Parliament on the PF ticket.

This is in a matter in which Masebo is facing abuse of authority of office charges after she cancelled the ZAWA tender hunting licences concessions and fired the senior officers.

In her ruling on whether or not to remove Mr Zulu from the proceedings, Lusaka Magistrates Ireen Wishimanga dismissed the application by the defence.

She said the court had no power to appoint or disappoint any prosecutor from the proceedings.

Ms Wishimanga said Messrs Makebi Zulu and PNP Advocates could not be removed from the proceedings based on the fact that they represented the state in the tribunal.

She said the only option was for the prosecutor to recuse himself or the defence to write to the Director of Public Prosecution and lodge the complaint. Ms Wishimanga said the issue could have been brought at the beginning of the case as the defence was aware that Makebi Zulu and PNP Advocates were part of the prosecuting team in the Rhodah Kaoma tribunal.

In applying to have Mr Zulu removed from the case,   Masebo’s lawyer  told the court that his client was a high profiled member of the UPND who cannot be prosecuted by a private lawyer who had applied to contest in the August elections on a Patriotic Front ticket because it can present conflict of interest. In response, Mr Zulu contended that it Masebo was Chongwe Member of Parliament for the Patriotic Front.

He said the question of whether he should be removed from the proceedings should not be entertained because Article 180 of the Constitution gives the DPP mandate to appoint and disappoint any prosecutor to the proceedings.

Mr Zulu said in the conduct of Ms Masebo’s prosecution, he disagreed that there was any political prejudice on the part of Masebo because she was not a UPND member but a PF parliamentarian for Chongwe constituency.

Shortly after ruling an Investigations Officer of the Anti- Corruption Commission Chilufya Phiri told the court that in 2013 she was assigned to carry out an investigation in the matter before court. She visited 19 places and amongst them was the Ministry of Tourism and Arts where she interviewed a number of people as well as collected several documents.

Ms Phiri told court that among the documents she found was a press statement with regards to the cancellation of the ZAWA tender concession.

She added that she also found a letter which was authored by Masebo to the late President Michael Chilufya Sata in which she explained she did not cancel the tender concession but that the sanction was taken by her as Minister responsible for wildlife in the absence of the ZAWA Board.

Ms Phiri also said she found a response letter from the late President Sata who asked Masebo to give him a letter of who directed her to dissolve the ZAWA Board and cancel the tender concession.

Ms Wishimanga adjourned the matter to May 17 for continued trial.

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