UPND intends to seek judicial review over the failure by the Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda to constitute a tribunal against Arts and Tourism Minister Sylvia Masebo following allegations of corruption and abuse of office in the manner she canceled Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) tenders.
UPND Chairperson for Tourism and Culture Ephraim Belemu said the delay by Justice Chibesakunda to constitute a tribunal to investigate corruption and abuse of office allegations leveled against Masebo was suspicious and irregular.
Belemu said Acting Chief Justice Chibesakunda was compromised and her continued stay at the helm of the judiciary had proved costly to the justice system of the country.
He said his party was worried with the conduct of Justice Chibesakunda who instead of informing President Michael Sata about the development had opted request a meeting with the petitioner William Harrington, former Tramsport Minister in the MMD administration.
He said it was now clear that the judiciary with Justice Chibesakunda at the helm of the system was highly compromised and corrupt, adding that his party would soon seek legal interpretation on the matter.
Belemu said Justice Chibesakunda should redeem herself from allegations of compromise and abetting wrong doers by carrying out the obligation of the office of the Chief Justice as enshrined in the laws of the land without favours for those in power.
“We are worried as a party with the conduct of Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda in the manner she is handling the petition for a tribunal to investigate Sylvia Masebo for corruption and Abuse of office allegations in the manner she canceled the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) tenders.
“It is extremely shocking that Madam Chibesakunda is behaving in a very suspicious manner by requesting Mr. Harrington for a meeting over the petition. We take her action unkindly because she has only shown how defensive she is over Masebo,” he said.
Belemu, who is UPND Mbabala Member of Parliament, said his party would soon be meeting Harrington to discuss the matter further before applying for a judicial review over the action by Justice Chibesakunda.
He said that the law was very clear on the requirement to constitute a tribunal and that it was shocking that the Acting Chief Justice was protecting wrong doers by not responding to the dictates of the law.
Belemu cited the Remmy Mushota tribunal and the most recent one involving Dora Siliya which was constituted after complaints from members of the public were made available to the Chief Justice.
He said it was highly irregular and irresponsible for the Acting Chief Justice to start organizing meetings with petitioners when she was supposed to inform the President about the constitution of a tribunal to investigate the corruption allegations.
“I am sure if it was someone else who is from the opposition, a tribunal could have been constituted without fail and this matter would have been history by now. And these are the double standards that we have been talking about in the dispensation of justice in this country. But we have to warn her that as a party we have remained without an option but to push for a judicial review,” he said.
Belemu reminded Justice Chibesakunda that it was her obligation to ensure that legal provisions of the law were met and delivered accordingly without looking at the face.
Harrington has since urged the Civil Society Organisations to support and join the tribunal proceedings to investigate allegations of abuse of office levelled against Ms. Masebo.
In his invitation letter to the CSOs, Harrington said, “The purpose of writing to you this letter is to invite other Civil Society Organisations (CSO) to consider joining the proposed tribunal proceedings as was the case in the Dennis Chirwa-led tribunal appointed to investigate Ms Dora Siliya MP in the matter of Zamtel sale and International Airport radar contract,” part of the letter read.