THE Lusaka Magistrate’s Court yesterday heard that former minister of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo terminated the employment of five Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) managers.
Before magistrate Irene Wishimanga was former ZAWA director-general Edwin Matokwani in a case in which Masebo is charged with two counts of abuse of authority of office.
Masebo is alleged to have cancelled hunting concessions and terminated contracts of employment for ZAWA senior officers between 2012 and 2013 without following laid down procedures.
Mr Matokwani said before the court that according to a letter dated December 28, 2012, Masebo told former President Michael Sata that she had relieved five ZAWA officers of their duties and recommended that the President retire them in public or national interest.
He said according to his letter of termination of employment, he was not retired in national or public interest and that it was clear in the letter to the President that Masebo had dismissed him and four others.
Mr Matokwani said he received the letter from then Ministry of Tourism and Arts permanent secretary Charity Simwanza terminating his employment.
He said he was employed by the ZAWA board and that it was the board chairperson who signed on behalf of the board.
Mr Matokwani said Masebo had not brought to his attention allegations of corruption at ZAWA and that, if he had done anything wrong, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) would have indicted him.
Mr Matokwani noted that according to the letter, it was not Government position to dismiss the ZAWA officers but it was Masebo’s position as she had already relieved them of their duties by the time she was writing to the President.
“I have in the meantime administratively relieved the named officers of their duties and I recommend that you [President Sata] retire them in national or public interest,” part of the letter reads.
And deputy chief state advocate in the Attorney General’s chambers Susan Wanjelani, 44, said she contacted the ministry of Tourism and Arts regarding the dismissal of Mr Matokwani and four others.
Ms Wanjelani said a position was given that Masebo had merely announced the dismissal of the said officers and that she denied terminating their contracts based on corruption and that this was the response that was given to the court that was hearing the case.
She said former Solicitor General Musa Mwenye provided an opinion to the Secretary to the Cabinet suggesting that the matter be settled amicably outside court because the State had no strong defence.
“We agreed to settle the matter outside court but could not agree on the quantum. We agreed to let the court assess the damages because the case was already before the court,” Ms Wanjelani said.
She said Mr Matokwani was awarded damages for wrongful termination of employment and other damages.