Masebo Tribunal : ‘Masebo had Govt backing’ – Guy Scott


TOURISM and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo had the full blessings of Government to terminate the employment of  Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) director general Edwin Matokwani and four top executives, the Tribunal probing the minister has heard.
Vice-President Guy Scott said Ms Masebo was right to fire the five as well as to cancel the tender for the 19 hunting concessions because they failed to adhere to Government policy and instructions.
The Vice-President said when he opened Ms Masebo’s defence before the Tribunal led by acting Supreme Court judge Rhoyda Kaoma yesterday that the minister used powers delegated to her by the executive to terminate the employment of Mr Matokwani and the others.
Dr Scott said the ZAWA management failed to adhere to instructions from Government to involve chiefs and Community Resource Boards (CRBs) in the tendering process.
He said it had become clear that only a small group of people with money were meant to benefit from the tender when it was Government’s policy to ensure that the interests of chiefs and community were put upfront.
Dr Scott said the statement by Ms Masebo was official as it was Government’s position and decision which she implemented in her capacity as head of the ministry in charge of ZAWA, especially that there was no board of directors at ZAWA at the time.
He told Ms Justice Kaoma, who sat with two members – Livingstone High Court judge-in-charge Ernest Mukulamutiyo and Lusaka High Court judge Chalwe Mchenga, that the ZAWA management went ahead to issue the concessions without involvement of all stakeholders who felt left out.
Dr Scott said about nine chiefs and CRB representatives wrote to the President complaining that they had been left out of the process and that the process had been less transparent.
“My understanding is that Minister Masebo was going to carry all the blame in her ministry because she is responsible.
“Whether with or without the Board, she has an obligation to correct things when they are going wrong,” Dr Scott said.
He said the ZAWA management had been ‘auto-piloting’ for 18 months in wrong directions.
He also refuted Kabwata Member of Parliament Given Lubinda’s submission to the Tribunal that Dr Scott and Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba had asked him to fire Mr Matokwani when Mr Lubinda was in charge of the Tourism ministry.
Dr Scott also denied allegations that he threatened Mr Matokwani with dismissal, saying if anything, he had tried his best to save Mr Matokwane’s job at ZAWA because the director general was somebody he knew.
He also denied suggestions by the petitioner William Harrington’s lawyer Gilbert Phiri that he had financial interest in the ZAWA.
Mr Matokwani’s letter of termination of employment produced in the tribunal and his termination letter was signed by the then tourism permanent secretary Charity Mwansa.
North-Western province Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga, who also appeared before the tribunal, said Ms Masebo’s directive to cancel the tender on behalf of the Zambian Government was in order.
Mr Malupenga told the tribunal how Mr Lubinda, when he was information and broadcasting services minister, gave a directive to fire media heads at Times of Zambia, Zambia Daily Mail and Zambia National Broadcasting Services and replaced them with new ones.
He denied being told by Mr Lubinda about Dr Scott and Mr Kabimba’s request for him to fire Mr Matokwane.
Meanwhile, Ms Masebo yesterday told a group of her sympathizers that some people had been bought to tell lies to the tribunal.
Ms Masebo said outside the Tribunal that she knew from the onset that some people meant to fight her but that Government would not allow a cartel to plunder natural resources, especially big cats. Tribunal hearings continue.