Sata disowned Masebo

TOURISM and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo
Sylvia Masebo

LATE President Michael Sata disowned Sylvia Masebo for ‘‘messing up’’ by firing five ZAWA officers without following procedures.

A witness narrated how the late President called her and wanted the anomaly, caused by his Minister corrected.
Former Ministry of Tourism and Arts permanent secretary Charity Mwansa told the court that after Masebo fired the officers President Sata phoned to tell her to clean up the mess created by the minister.
She was testifying in a case where Masebo is charged with abuse of authority of office when she fired the senior officers and cancelled tender hunting concessions.
Ms Mwansa, 53, who is now a lawyer at Messrs C.C. Mwansa Attorneys, confirmed that she was the one who signed the contract termination letters for the five officers but even as she was signing the letters, the officers were already dismissed.
The letters were brought to her attention by the late ZAWA acting director general Mr Xen Vlahakisi and Mr Kampamba Kombe, the then legal counsel, shortly after Ms Mwansa returned from leave.
She asked the late Mr Vlahakisi and Mr Kombe why the letters were taken to her office when ZAWA had appointed a new board and they told her that the board had declared interest in the matter because it happened before it was appointed.
Ms Mwansa said she was the officer vested with powers to terminate the contracts of any ZAWA officer when need arose and not Masebo.
She added that in December 2012 Masebo held a press briefing where she made some pronouncements including the dismissal of the ZAWA senior officers.
She disclosed that after the briefing she went to Ms Masebo’s office and tried to tell her that her decision of terminating the contracts of the officers could have been done in a right manner.
But Masebo allegedly told her not to worry as then President Sata would write to the officers to relieve them of their duties in the national interest.
Ms Mwansa said Masebo used the contract termination clause without assigning any reasons which could have been done through a disciplinary committee.
Ms Mwansa said she later received a call from President Sata who wanted to know if she was the permanent secretary and after she confirmed that she was the one, the president told her that Masebo had made a mess and he (President Sata) wanted Ms Mwansa to clean up the mess.
She added that the President further told her he was not going to write any letters to the dismissed senior officers but asked her if she could clean up the mess that was created by Masebo.
Ms Mwansa disclosed that there were several consultations within the ministry and from the Ministry of Justice led by the former Justice minister Wynter Kabimba.
She said her ministry held several meetings to see how they could regularize the matter.
Defence lawyer Robert Simeza later applied for an adjournment of the case, stating that Ms Mwansa was a ‘‘witness of perjury’’ as she was allegedly inconsistent in her testimony.
Mr Simeza said he also wanted the matter to be adjourned to allow him time to study the prosecution documents which would help him when cross-examining the witness.
But the State replied that they were aware of defence lawyers’ tendency of adjourning matters whenever there was a new witness on stand so as to buy time.
The State further argued that it was unfair for the defence to accuse Ms Mwansa of perjury and being inconsistent before she was cross-examined on her testimony.
And in her ruling Magistrate Ireen Wishimanga stated that she had no authority to disallow the defence’s application for an adjournment as they needed more time to prepare for the witness on the stand.
Ms Wishimanga said it was unfortunate the defence could accuse the witness of perjury before cross-examining her and adjourned the case to December 18.