GOVERNMENT has with immediate effect suspended the disbursement of entitlements and benefits to former Republican president Rupiah Banda following the announcement by the MMD that they had maintained Mr Banda as the party’s interim president which according to government is in breach of the Benefits of Former President’s Act.
Chief Government Spokesperson Given Lubinda told the government owned and controlled Times of Zambia in Lusaka yesterday that the law was clear on the entitlements of a former President.
Mr Lubinda, who is Information, Broadcasting and Tourism Minister, was reacting to the announcement by MMD Spokesperson, Dora Siliya, on
Saturday that the party had resolved to maintain Mr. Banda as its leader in the interim before electing a replacement in the next two
“Immediately they made the announcement to the effect that RB (president Banda) is still the acting president, he is also disqualified from receiving any emoluments due to a former president because it means that he is still in active politics.
“There is nowhere in the world where you have a robot president. No political party can be headed by a robot, it is in fact an insult on president Banda for the MMD to say he is a dormant president or to say that he is a robot,” he said.
Mr Lubinda was reacting to MMD deputy national secretary, Chembe Nyangu, who when contacted on the matter said Mr Banda was a ‘dormant member’ of the opposition party who is only acting as its leader in the interim before another leader could be elected.
Mr Nyangu said the party was cautious and alive to the fact that the former president would lose his benefits if he continued in active politics.
“Even during the national executive committee (NEC) meeting, he remained quiet and the meeting was chaired by the national chairperson Mr Michael Mabenga. So he is just a dormant member of the party,” he said.
But Mr Lubinda, said the mere fact that the MMD had announced that he was still the acting president of the party, it meant the former president was still active in politics.
“The MMD cannot have it both ways, so immediately they announced that he is their president, Cabinet Office and the Minister of Finance must take note and forthwith, the calculation of his emoluments is frozen.
“This was the case with former presidents Frederick Chiluba and Kenneth Kaunda. Dr Kaunda was denied his benefits for the whole time he remained in active politics so what is so special about president Banda,” he said.
And Mr Banda’s administrative secretary, Mikatazo Wakumelo said he was out of town and that he would only give an elaborate comment once he got back to Lusaka and had consulted the former head of State.
Mr Wakumelo said he was sure that the MMD NEC was alive to the provisions of the Benefits of Former President’s Act and considered this at their meeting on Saturday.
“All I hear is that this is reported in your paper. I have not read the paper and I was not even in the NEC meeting. I want to ask so that I get to understand what really is on the ground. In the meantime, it would be wise to get hold of the party as this is a party matter,” he said.
According to Section 5 (1) (b) of the Benefits of Former President’s Act (CAP 15), the pension and other benefits conferred by the Act, shall not be paid, assigned or provided to a former president who is engaged in active politics.
On Saturday the MMD NEC resolved that former Republican president Banda would continue to lead the party until the former ruling party holds a mini-convention to elect a new leader.