The tribunal to probe Justice minister Wynter Kabimba started yesterday with irregularities. To start with, Kabimba is still working as government minister and went to the venue with the same pomp of a Zambian minister. He was being driven in his official vehicle. No one present saw it fit to ask him why he was still a minister even if some of the people to testify are his juniors at the ministry.
The petitioners’ lawyers were requested to attend a preparatory meeting yesterday just to discover that the actual tribunal had started sitting.
And to further intimidate the judges and petitioners, Minister of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo, Vice-President Guy Scott’s wife Charlotte, Minister of Home Affairs Ngosa Simbyakula, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Emmanuel Chenda, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Luxson Kazabu and Deputy Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health Jean Kapata were present at the opening of the hearing.
These people get huge salaries to work and were supposed to be in their offices working at the time they went to give solidarity to Kabimba.
We understand it was Masebo who orgnaised others to accompany her as she thought it would look awkward if she was the only one who turned up to ‘viva’ Kabimba.
The Tribunal has been given 45 days, inclusive of weekends from the time it was appointed on January 7, 2014, to conclude its work and submit the report.
Mr Mulusa and Mr Changala want the Tribunal to state whether or not Mr Kabimba abused his office by using Government information rendered by Solicitor General Musa Mwenye to allegedly block parliamentarians whose seats had been nullified by the Supreme Court for engaging in corrupt practices, from re-contesting their seats.
Addressing both parties when he opened the Tribunal yesterday, Mr Justice Hamaundu said the Tribunal would work within the terms of reference set out by Mr Mulusa and Mr Changala in their letter of December 24, 2013 and would refuse anything outside that.
Mr Justice Hamaundu said that was because the strength of the allegations and questions set out by the two petitioners in their letter was the foundation for the Tribunal.
Mr Justice Hamaundu said the Act under which the Tribunal was constituted did not specify the form in which investigations should take, but that they would be guided by the provisions of the Inquiries Act.
The terms of procedure would adopt section 13 of the Inquiries Act Chapter 41 of the Laws of Zambia.
Mr Justice Hamaundu reminded both parties that the Tribunal was not a court of law and as such, it would not be bound by the rules of evidence or by the rules of procedure.
Mr Justice Hamaundu said both parties would be at liberty to call any witness to testify.
He, however, said the summoning of any witness would be a prerogative of the Tribunal after a party sought its leave by stating the reasons why it wanted that person to be called.
He said no party would be allowed to seek attendance of any person by issuing a
subpoena under the ‘white book’.
Mr Justice Hamaundu further stated that due to the limited time for the inquiry, the complainants had been given five days (Monday, January 20 to Friday, January 24, 2014) to state their case while Mr Kabimba would respond from January 27 to January 31, 2014.
He said that would give the Tribunal time to review the evidence, prepare the report and submit it within the stipulated timeframe.
Mr Kabimba is represented by State Counsel, Bonaventure Mutale from Ellis and Company, Dr John Mulwila from Ituna Chambers, Willy Mubanga of Chilupe and Permanent Chambers, Robinson Malipenga of Malipenga and Company, A.D Mwansa of Mumba Associates, and Abraham Mwansa of AMC Associates.
Mr Mulusa and Mr Changala are represented by Makebi Zulu of Makebi Zulu Advocates.