THE Attorney General is wrong to halt the Masebo Tribunal, Heritage Party president Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda has observed.
Commenting on the Attorney General’s appeal against the Masebo tribunal, Brig. Gen. Miyanda stated that the action was unconstitutional and irregular as it opposed the public policy.
Find below the full statement by Brig. Gen. Miyanda.
ATTORNEY GENERAL’S APPEAL IN THE MASEBO TRIBUNAL – IS THIS ANOTHER SCANDAL AT THE JUSTICE MINISTRY?
[27TH NOVEMBER 2013]
The purported appeal by the Attorney General of Zambia to halt the Masebo Tribunal is unconstitutional and is highly irregularas it contradicts or opposes current public policy. I therefore call upon the Attorney General to withdraw the said appeal forthwith. Since the Masebo Tribunal is active I refrain from commenting on the merits or demerits of that case.
Ordinarily all persons involved or affected by a decision of a court in Zambia are entitled to appeal and must be allowed to do so if they so choose.Hon Masebo is entitled to appeal but I am NOT aware of such appeal by her or through her lawyers. In this specific case of an inquiry established under the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct Act, it is my humble opinion that the Attorney General CANNOT be and OUGHT NOT to be her lawyer. If he feels strongly he should use his private law firm to represent her!
The Attorney General’s appeal is an abuse of office and a departure from custom and practice as his action is attacking the very core of public policy of the Zambian Government, as reflected in existing laws. It is unconstitutional and irregular because the Attorney General has purposed to prevent the enforcement of Section 13 of the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct Act 16, as read with Article 52 0f the Republican Constitution. Public policy, as promulgated in the stated provisions, is that whenever allegations are raised by any concerned person and are submitted to the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice SHALL establish the tribunal; the holding of the tribunal is mandatory.
According to Article (52) “all Ministers and Deputy Ministers shall conduct themselves, during their tenure of office, in accordance with a code of conduct promulgated by Parliament”, end of quotation. Pursuant to this Article Parliament enacted the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct Act 16. The complainant, former Cabinet Minister William Harrington, has alleged that Hon Masebo has breached Section 13 of the said Act and has provided information to support his allegations.
Under Article 54 (2) of the Constitution one of the constitutional functions of the Attorney General is “to represent the Government in courts or any other legal proceedings to which the Government is a party”.I contend that the Government is NOT a party to the Masebo Tribunal; so whom is the Attorney General purporting to represent? In any case and strictly speaking Hon Masebo has NOT been sued nor is she being prosecuted. She is to be investigated in order to establish the truth or otherwise of the complaints submitted to the Chief Justice. Why should the Government pre-empt a mandatory investigation? This act borders on interference with the course of justice and may qualify as abuse of office.
It is undesirable and politically ill-advised for the Attorney General to act in this manner in the light of the contentious appointment of the Acting Chief Justice which is itself under question. Literary within hours of the Acting Chief Justice establishing the Tribunal the Attorney General obtained an injunction! Under the prevailing circumstances, the least the public would have expected was for the Acting Chief Justice to recuse herself from all judicial functions until questions concerning the constitutionality and legality of her appointment are resolved; this is the injunction which the Attorney General should have been busy with to stop Her Ladyship from superintending any court activities.
For the foregoing reasons, I urge the Attorney General, in effect the Government, to step aside and let the Tribunal to carry out its mandate to enforce public policy as envisaged in Article 52 of the Constitution and Section 13 of the Act and as ordered by the High Court for Zambia.