Judges are annoyed with the disproportionately excessive salaries awarded to the Attorney General, Director of Public Prosecutions, Solicitor General, among others; calling them a form of bribe for the current office holders to continue bringing Patriotic Front-inclined frivolous cases to court.
The Daily Nation has learnt that DPP Mutembo Nchito and SG Musa Mwenye were each earning K343 million a year while a High Court Judge earns K218 million a difference of K135 million while the AG Malila was earning K353 million.
This is compared to the Judiciary where the Chief Justice earns K272 million a year Deputy Chief Justice K267 million, Supreme Court Judges K226 million and High Court Judges K218 million.
Judicial sources told the Daily Nation that judges have questioned the huge salaries given to President Sata’s ‘crack squad’ that he appointed at the start of his term of office comprising Attorney General Mumba Malila, Solicitor General Musa Mwenye and Director of Public Prosecution Mutembo Nchito.
The awards, they said were not only immoral but illegal since there was no approval by Parliament.
They said it was shocking that President Michael Sata had awarded the said officers huge salaries leading to a situation where the said officers now earn more than High Court judges and the Chief Justice, who as per procedure should be the highest earning Judicial officers.
They have since demanded for an explanation on how the said officers’ salaries were excessively increased without Parliament’s approval.
The sources said this was pure constitutional anarchy exhibited by the Executive to reward the ‘crack squad’ to quote President Sata’s own words, but warned that this was bound to backfire in the very near future as this was a negotiated bribe.
“All salaries and allowances from the President to all constitution office bearers must be approved by Parliament without exception. This is for purposes of transparency and accountability and seniority of rank.
“The judges feel these special salaries for the ‘crack squad’ must be tabled in parliament to have a national character and approval. Because of these strange and special salaries, you can see and understand why these gentlemen are always acting very strangely in their execution of their official duties,” said the sources.
And civil rights activist Brebner Changala said this was unfair as judges were more qualified and held more serious responsibilities than other state legal officers and should therefore be remunerated better.
“These people are junior to the judges on the bench and when did Parliament sit to agree that judges would get lower salaries than the ‘crack squad’. I demand that government explains this anomaly and can they tell us if this was deliberately done to entice a favoured group of citizens to work for Patriotic Front.
“This also confirms why the judiciary is in disarray and being threatened by massive arrogance from the Executive. Why should a small group of people take up salaries for the entire Judiciary and why were the salaries increased through a statutory instrument instead of a motion in parliament,” he said.
Changala questioned the role of Parliament in constitutional emoluments.
‘Is this the much talked about judicial reforms done at State House? Who negotiated these uncharitable salaries and allowance? Is this not corruption that the PF and President Sata have been talking against for a long time now? Can the government give a comprehensive and clear statement on these seemingly dubious salary increments?’
According to the Statutory Instrument No 59 of 2012 obtained by the Daily Nation and signed by Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda, the salaries for the Secretary to Cabinet, Attorney General, Solicitor General, Director of Public Prosecutions, Auditor General and Investigator General were higher than that of the Chief Justice and other judges by a K100 million.
But judicial sources said historically, all government employees except the Secretary to Cabinet earned less than High Court judges and that was the reason why most of the people that had served in these offices aspired to be judges because of the accrued benefits.