Masebo must be probed, orders Court

Masebo Sylvia

Masebo Sylvia

Lusaka High Court has ruled that William Harrington has the right to be heard through a Tribunal against Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo in the matter she is alleged to have abused her authority regarding the operations at Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA).

Mr Justice Dominic Sichinga said yesterday in his judgment that the Parliamentarian and Ministerial Code of Conduct required that Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda should appoint a Tribunal to probe allegations against Ms Masebo.

Mr Harrington, who is a former Minister in the Chiluba administration, had sought judicial review over Ms Justice Chibesakunda’s decision to refuse to appoint a Tribunal to probe Ms Masebo.

The Acting Chief Justice refused to appoint a Tribunal on grounds that Mr Harrington had not supplied her with sufficient facts and particulars on the alleged breaches that Ms Masebo had committed.

But Mr Justice Sichinga said yesterday that the decision by the Acting Chief Justice to refuse to appoint a Tribunal was flawed because Mr Harrington had the right to be heard under section 13 (1) and (3) of the Act.

He said he was satisfied that there was an illegality on the acting Chief Justice’s decision not to appoint a Tribunal to investigate allegations levelled against Ms Masebo.

Mr Justice Sichinga said the decision by Ms Justice Chibesakunda to refuse to appoint a Tribunal effectively denied the applicant an opportunity to be heard in the allegations he had submitted against the minister.

“In this case, the duty imposed on the Chief Justice in terms of section 13 (1) is to act in one particular manner and that is to appoint a Tribunal. The decision to refuse to appoint can thus be said to be flawed,” he said.

He said Mr Harrington had demonstrated the illegality and procedural impropriety allegations in the decision of Ms Justice Chibesakunda.

Mr Justice Sichinga further said the statement by Ms Justice Chibesakunda to refuse to set up a Tribunal on the grounds that Ms Masebo’s reputation would be irreparably damaged politically was a mere moral concern because the law stated otherwise.

He said all what the acting chief justice was supposed to do was to inform the President and the Speaker of the National Assembly about the request by Mr Harrington. He could however, not grant a request by Mr Harrington to have Ms Justice Chibesakunda’s decision to refuse to set up a Tribunal quashed, saying there was nothing for him to quash.

“However, I have earlier in my judgment rendered the said decision to be a nullity. This means that in fact there is nothing to quash and therefore I decline to grant the relief,” Mr Justice Sichinga said.

Times of Zambia