A few weeks ago, the Court of Appeal issued a judgment that only workers who were employed after 2015 can retire at the age of 60. The Court of Appeal said anyone who was employed when the retirement age was 55 in the national law will have to retire at 55. In terms of hierarchy, the court of Appeal is the second highest court in Zambia. The highest courts are the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court which are at the same level.
Surprisingly, most senior civil servants who are above 55 years are still working and government is mute on this very important matter.
Here is one clear example of a civil servant working illegally as she reached her retirement age probably 10 years ago. Her name is retired Brigadier-General Emelda Chola. She is the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Water Development. She has been working in the Public Service for more than 40 years. Before her current illegal position, she served in the Ministries of Defence and Home Affairs in the same capacity. Remember that she retired from the military before joining the publc service.
Does it mean that the law only applies to junior people like those miners who were forced by ZCCM to retire at the age of 55? Will the money Emelda Chola drawing from government illegally be recovered?
The Court of Appeal made this ruling in a case where about 30 former employees of ZCCM sued ZCCM for retiring them at the age of 55 when the law has changed to 60 and 65 years respectively.
The Court of Appeal agreed with ZCCM saying that laws do not operate retrospectively (Backwards) so the retirement age in this case remans 55.
‘It could not have been the intention of the framers of the law to invalidate agreements that were perfectly legal at the time they were executed. The respondents’ contracts of employment, which provided that they would retire at fifty-five years are binding and cannot be varied on the basis of the amendment to the National Pension Scheme Act of 2015,’ said the Court of Appeal.
The Court further said that ‘A law that comes into effect after parties have contracted cannot apply to relations that were consummated previously. It therefore fallows that the respondents cannot rely on the retirement age the amended National Pension Scheme Act as it does not apply to them.’
ZWD will list all the people working illegally when they are supposed to be writing their memoirs.