Caritas Chipata says the Constitutional Court decision to uphold its ruling on formers Ministers to pay back salaries and allowances to the treasury, also means that they illegally used government resources to campaign.
Caritas Chipata Good Governance Coordinator, John Mthaziko Zulu said the court’s ruling had shown that the Judiciary was independent to the delight of citizens.
“On this part alone, you can link it to say that therefore the elections were not free and fair, in the sense that these people during that time, they were using government fuel and their positions as ministers to do their campaigns. To some extent, it was unfair to all the opposition political parties that took part because they are disadvantaged, and these were the things that LAZ and the church were advising that cant you relinquish your positions as ministers but they did not listen,” Zulu said.
And Zulu said his organization was disappointed with the earlier stance the Attorney General took to represent the former ministers, saying it amounted to abuse of office.
“It’s a welcome judgment and that’s what we want to see in Zambia were the judiciary becomes independent. We were very much disappointed with the Attorney General who was trying to come in and stand in on behalf of those people, I think that actually amounts to abuse of authority,” he said.
He said there is no way the Attorney General could have represented individuals who drew salaries in their personal capacity and not the government.
Further, Zulu charged that the ConCourt decision to uphold its initial ruling showed that last year’s elections were not free and fair because ministers who were candidates used government machinery to campaign.
He recalled that the church and other Civil Society Organizations (CSO’s) advised the former minister to leave their offices after parliament was dissolved, but they did not listen.
Meanwhile, the Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) in Eastern province has also has expressed happiness at the ConCourt’s ruling.
CSPR provincial Coordinator, Maxson Nkhoma said the ruling could not have come at a better time than when government needed money to pay farmers who supplied their maize to Food Reverse Agency (FRA).
“We are glad with the judgment given by the Constitutional Court. The judgment could have not come at a better time than when government needs money to pay farmers who supplied maize to FRA,” Nkhoma said.
He further urged all those ministers who stayed in office illegally to respect the judgement and pay the money immediately without any delays.
On Friday, the ConCourt maintained that the former ministers must pay back salaries and other emoluments which they accrued by staying in office after Parliament was dissolved before the 2016 elections.
The Court further ruled that the Attorney General could not represent the former ministers.