Former ministers ignore court order to refund illegal salaries

Former ministers ignore court order to refund illegal salaries

 

LUNGU-CABINET-MEETING-DEPUTYNone of the more than 70 former ministers and deputy ministers has so far refunded the salaries, allowances and other monetary advantages they illegally received during the four months they were unconstitutionally serving as ministers.

On 8 August 2016, the Constitutional Court ordered ministers and their deputies to vacate their offices and pay back salaries and allowances they had been drawing from public coffers since 12 May 2016 when parliament was dissolved.

Ministers and their deputies had remained in office following the dissolution of parliament, and despite being advised, they refused to vacate and hired questionable lawyers to interpret the constitution in their favour. PF president Edgar Lungu himself held a press conference were he stammered that he, and not the constitution determines when ministers vacate office. Lungu said Zambian were ignorant of the law because of the ‘bad reading culture.’

This forced the Law Association of Zambia and the UPND to challenge this arrogance and illegality in the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court ruled the former ministers were in office illegally and should therefore refund the money they had been receiving.

But contacts at the ministry of Finance have revealed that not even one former minister or deputy minister has obeyed the court order.  No one has paid back, not even a ngwee. Sources at the line ministry further revealed that in fact all the former ministers are still holding on to and using their former official vehicles.

The plan, according to sources is that once and if Lungu will be sworn in, the matter will die a natural death as there will be no one to follow up.

“Some of those guys will be retained as ministers if Mr Lungu is inaugurated so who will go to ask ministers to pay back; even those who will not be retained no one will follow up because their colleagues will not allow it as it will affect them as well,’ a government contact said.

A source said the only thing that can be done is for LAZ and UPND to approach the court again and start contempt of court proceedings against each individual person who earned money illegally during those four months.

‘Otherwise,’ the source said, ‘even the other orders the Constitutional Court will make will be ignored with impunity as well.’

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