Former president Fredrick Chiluba says he reserves the right to take legal action against the Post newspaper, Ngandu Magande, chiefs Nalubamba and Chona and other people ‘determined to scandalise and defame him without cause or justification.’
Chiluba’ spokesperson Emmanuel Mwamba told the Watchdog in statement that the former president is not involved in active politics buit merely rendering political suipport to president Rupiah Banda.
Mwamba said that his office has been forced to ‘clarify the many misleading assertions, deliberate distortions and misdirected interpretations of the law relating to Pensions and Benefits that accrue to a person who was Republican President but no longer holds such an office.’
There has been calls from certain individuals to strip Chiluba of his retirement benefits on perceptions that he has returned to active politics.
But Mwamba has maintained that his boss is merely exercising his fundamental rights such as freedom of choice, freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of movement as guaranteed by the Republican Constitution.
Below is the full statement as issued by Mwamba:
DATE; 6th February 2010
SUBJECT; PENSIONS AND BENEFITS FOR FORMER PRESIDENTS
We have been compelled to issue this statement to clarify the many misleading assertions, deliberate distortions and misdirected interpretations of the law relating to Pensions and Benefits that accrue to a person who was Republican President but no longer holds such an office.
Many people including persons such as lawyers like Mr. Wynter Kabimba have maliciously alleged that the pension and benefits that Dr. Chiluba enjoys should be taken away on the pretentions that he is involved in active politics.
Dr. Chiluba and any other former President that wish to comment on matters of public affairs and supports a candidate and political party of his choice does not in any way break the law. Nor are their benefits threatened in any way.
The law provides as follows:
Article 42 (3) of the Republican Constitution specifically provides for pensions, benefits and gratuity to a former president as prescribed by an Act of Parliament and that such benefits shall be charged on the revenues of the Republic of Zambia.
The enabling Act for these benefits is ‘’The Benefits of Former Presidents Act’’, CAP 16 of the Laws of Zambia. This Act is comprehensive and stipulates the benefits that a former President is entitled to and ancillary benefits that accrue to his family and his office.
The Act also provided for benefits to a President that dies whilst holding office or after leaving office, and stipulates the benefits that will accrue to the remaining spouse and children.
HOW BENEFITS CAN BE TAKEN AWAY
The Act has also provided for circumstances under which such benefits may be taken away. The Act stipulates that a former President shall be disqualified from the pension and other benefits conferred by the Act;
- 1. If he ceases to hold office of President on the ground of wilful violation of the Constitution or of misconduct,
- 2. If he is convicted of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for a term exceeding six months.
- 3. Engaged in active politics.
ENGAGED IN ACTIVE POLITICS
This same law defines ‘’active politics’’ to mean as follows;
(a) The doing of any act indicating a person’s intention to hold elective or appointive office
(b) The holding of elective or appointive office
(c) Or by a resolution of two thirds of the majority of members of the National Assembly
Dr. Chiluba does [not] hold and does not intend to hold any political office. It [is] therefore folly to allege that his benefits should be taken away on the false assumption that he is engaged in active politics. The law defines clearly what the framers intended to mean by ‘’active politics’’ and Dr. Chiluba does not in any way fall in that category.
The calls for the withdrawal of his benefits are therefore malicious and intended to prevent him from meaningfully contributing the national development of this country.
This law has been applied equitably in the past;
In 2002, when Dr. Chiluba retired as Republican President, he remained MMD Party President for a period of three (3) months. During that period, his pensions and benefits were taken away in compliance with the law. The benefits were only restored to him, upon resigning his position as MMD President.
Similarly, when Dr. Kenneth Kaunda returned to active politics and became UNIP President between 1995 and 1998, his benefits were too taken away in compliance with the law. When Dr. Kaunda retired from active politics and relinquished his position as UNIP President, his benefits were immediately restored.
We therefore wish to reprimand such persons as Ngandu Magande who know the provisions of the law but chose to mislead the nation by alleging that Dr. Chiluba is breaking the law by merely rendering political support to President Rupiah Banda.
Dr. Chiluba is merely exercising his fundamental rights such as freedom of choice, freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of movement as guaranteed by the Republican Constitution. Therefore people like Mr. Magande who are bent on making such calls, are the ones breaking the law by insisting on taking away his fundamental rights, freedoms and entitlements that a former President, and human being he enjoys.
The bliss ignorance so far displayed by Mr. Magande, in our view, amounts to irresponsible behaviour and having held a senior position such as a Finance Minister, his conduct should be beyond the petty.
We ignored similar and irresponsible remarks from two chiefs namely, Chief Nalubamba and Chief Chona. Maybe their ignorance in these matters can be excused.
However, we condemn their strange demands that Dr. Chiluba should not speak on public matters, or that his association with President Rupiah Banda is taking away the popularity of the MMD.
Contrary to these false assertions, Dr. Chiluba remains popular in this country and the parties Chief Nalubamba and Chief Chona support, have always jostled and competed for Dr. Chiluba’s attention and association.
However, Dr. Chiluba made a fundamental decision in 2008 Elections to support the candidature and friendly policies of President Rupiah Banda. President Banda deserves the support of Zambians for his forward looking policies and for the stability and predictability of such policies on the economy of Zambia.
The decision Dr. Chiluba has made to support President Rupiah Banda and his support for the MMD party he helped found, should be respected without question as this is his fundamental right.
We also wish to dismiss the false allegation by The Post that repeatedly refers to Dr. Chiluba’s trip to the Copperbelt as funded by State House. These allegations are ought to be dismissed with the contempt they deserve.
Since 2002, Dr. Chiluba, as former President, has had his trips, local and foreign, funded by government as a matter of entitlements. Therefore, the assertion that the funds released for this Copperbelt trip to meet the welfare of his accommodation, food, and that of his accompanying staff came from State House is only designed to embarrass President Rupiah Banda.
We caution The Post and other persons such as Chief Nalubamba, Chief Chona and Ngandu Magande, that Dr. Chiluba reserves the right to take legal action against such persons and institutions that are determined to scandalise and defame him without cause or justification.
For and On Behalf of
Dr. FJT. Chiluba
SECOND PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF ZAMBIA