Masebo interfered with ZAWA – Matokwani

Storella (left) and Zim Amb.Wharton with Hon Sylvia Masebo, Zambia minister of tourism

FORMER Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) Director General Edwin Matokwani yesterday told the Royda Kaoma-led tribunal appointed to probe Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo’s alleged interference at the authority that his dismissal was illegal since he was not given a chance to be heard.
Mr Matokwani said in his submission carried forward from Tuesday that Ms Masebo interfered with ZAWA when she dismissed him and four other directors.
He said even the cancellation of the tender for hunting concession licences by the minister was an act of interference saying ideally Ms Masebo should have reported any irregularities in the bidding process to the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC).
“My dismissal was gruesome and inhuman because I was not given a chance to be heard according to our ZAWA grievance procedure,” Mr Matokwani said.
But defence counsel Robert Simeza reminded Mr Matokwani that it was enshrined in the ZAWA bid document for the hunting licences that if the process was marred by corruption, it must be cancelled.
Mr Matokwani argued that if Ms Masebo found anything wrong with the tender process, she should have reported to ACC as opposed cancelling the process altogether.
This prompted Mr Simeza to produce a letter the Tourism minister wrote to ACC director Rosewin Wandi dated March 28 in which she requested the ACC to investigate the awarding of 19 hunting licences for various game management areas.
In response, the ACC Director General outlined several irregularities which she said ended up compromising the entire tender process and recommended that the minister should consider redoing the tender.
Earlier, Kabwata Member of Parliament (MP) Given Lubinda testified that Vice-President Guy Scott and Wynter Kabimba once advised him to dismiss the ZAWA director general and other top managers because they were appointed by the MMD regime.
Mr Lubinda had initially sought protection from the tribunal for him not to disclose the names of the people that recommended the dismissal of the ZAWA top brass but the petitioner’s lawyers insisted that the names were an integral part of their evidence.
The former Tourism minister reluctantly disclosed the names including that of Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba who was in attendance at the tribunal.
Defence counsel Michael Mundashi asked Mr Lubinda if the conversation he had with Dr Scott and Mr Kabimba weas not in confidence and why he chose to bring it into the public domain to which the Kabwata lawmaker referred to the intervention he initially sought from the tribunal.
Mr Lubinda also told the tribunal that when he served as Tourism Minister, he always consulted the Attorney General on any legal matters and that according to his understanding, the minister had no role in the day to day running of ZAWA.