ABOUT 43 former cabinet ministers and their deputies have asked the Constitutional Court to allow them to pay back the money they are supposed to refund the State in monthly installments of K10,000 for those serving as ministers and MPs and K5,000 for those who have retired.
Among the 43 are; Justice Minister Given Lubinda, Patriotic Front secretary general Davies Mwila, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Jean Kapata, Minister of Fisheries and Livestock Nkandu Luo and Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister Vincent Mwale.
Others are; Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Dora Siliya, Tourism Minister Ronald Chitotela, former Copperbelt Minister Mwenya Musenge, former Justice Minister Ngosa Simbyakula, Mwimba Malama, Christabel Ngimbu, among others.
The 43 have lamented that they are unable to settle the assessed amounts in a lump sum due to a variety of factors and want to pay the debt in monthly installments.
They add that they have family and other financial commitments.
On December 7, 2020, the Constitutional Court ruled that the 63 former cabinet ministers and their deputies who received emoluments after the dissolution of Parliament in 2016 should pay back over K54,000 each to the State within 30 days.
Constitutional Court registrar Dorcas Malama said in a ruling that the assessed amounts ranging from K54,889 to K61,756 individually, but altogether amounting to over K3.7 million, should be paid within 30 days from the date of the ruling.
The said 30 days time frame has now elapsed prompting 43 of the 63 former cabinet ministers and their deputies to ask the court to grant them leave to settle the debt in monthly instalments.
This is according to an affidavit in support of summons for an order for settlement of assessed amounts in installments filed on January 5, 2021 by a lawyer representing the 43, Bonaventure Mutale, State Counsel.
Mutale stated that he had been instructed by the 43 respondents to the effect that they were unable to settle the assessed amounts in a lump sum due to a variety of factors.
He added that the 43 had instead instructed him to apply to the court for leave to settle the debts in monthly instalments.
Mutale explained that among the respondents, 13 of them were employed in government either as Ministers or were in the diplomatic service.
He also produced to a sample of their pay slips as proof of earnings for the 13 respondents and stated that from the pay slips, the net pay for the 13 was K39,122.96.
Mutale added that 10 of the 43 respondents were currently serving as Members of Parliament.
He further produced a sample of their pay slips as proof of earnings, which indicated a sum of K32,527.94 as their net pay.
“In addition, each of the said respondents have family and other financial commitments which include; school fees, tertiary education fees, medical expenses, utility charges among others,” Mutale stated.
He stated that he had been advised by the respondents serving in capacities of ministers and Members of Parliament that they each propose to settle the assessed amounts in monthly installments of K10,000.
Mutale further stated that the rest of the 43 respondents were in retirement and their main source of income was derived from substance farming.
He stated that retired respondents proposed to settle the assessed amount in monthly instalments of K5,000.
In this matter, the State through the Attorney General’s chambers had asked the Constitutional Court to assess the amount of money that Ministers who continued to earn a salary after dissolution of Parliament in 2016 were required to pay back.
This was as a result of the Constitutional Court judgment of August 8, 2016 which ordered Cabinet, Provincial and deputy ministers to pay back to the State all the allowances and salaries they received while the National Assembly was dissolved.
The judgement was rendered in a matter where the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) and UPND through its secretary general Steven Katuka, challenged the continued stay in office of the ministers after Parliament was dissolved ahead of the 2016 general elections.
Katuka and LAZ petitioned the court to order the ministers who stayed in office after dissolution of Parliament to pay back the monies they received.
They cited the Attorney General, Ngosa Simbyakula and 63 others as respondents.