The Public Appointments Committee (PAC) of Parliament has summoned Legal Aid Bureau director Masauko Chamkakala on allegations that he abandoned his post for close to six months to pursue employment abroad.
Both the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs under which the bureau falls and National Assembly which employed him were in the dark over his whereabouts and yet the director had been drawing a salary from the public coffers.
But when contacted yesterday, Chamkakala refused to comment, saying the matter is not for public consumption.
“I believe that this issue is private and not for public discussion. It is an employer-employee matter,” he said.
Solicitor General Janet Banda, who is also Principal Secretary responsible for Legal Aid Bureau and Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, said she wrote the National Assembly to probe Chamkakala following a tip-off.
“I was tipped off anonymously on this and wrote the committee and the Chief Secretary as this amounted to abscondment. I wrote to them in November in my capacity as PS responsible for Legal Aid at policy level,” she said.
In turning the Legal Aid Department into a bureau under the Legal Aid Act of 2010, powers to appoint and discipline the director and deputy director were left to the National Assembly through the Public Appointments Committee.
Section 11 of the Act states that a person appointed as director or deputy director can only be removed from office for incompetence, incapacity, gross misconduct and where the person is compromised in the performance of his duties.
PAC chairperson Lingson Belekanyama has since confirmed summoning Chamkakala, but refused to give further details on what they are expecting to get from him.
“I have seen a letter from the Solicitor General and we are still investigating this. I can’t tell you more, because we have to hear both sides before coming to conclusions. But for the record, we have indeed summoned him,” he said.
Chamkakala joined the bureau in March 2015 after its establishment.