Vice-President Inonge Wina says government cannot say whether ministers who illegally stayed in office after the dissolution of Parliament should pay back or not because it has not seen the Constitutional Court’s ruling yet.
And Wina today struggled to give a clear response as to why President Lungu was suggesting that the presidential term of office should be adjusted to 10 years.
Responding to a question from Choma UPND member of parliament Cornelius Mweetwa who wanted to find out what government would do about the ConCourt’s ruling that former ministers who stayed in office illegally should pay back what they owed Zambians, Wina said government would make a decision after seeing the ruling of the court.
“Your honour the Vice-President, about two weeks ago, the Constitutional Court rendered a judgment in which it was ordered that PF ministers who illegally remained in office after the dissolution of Parliament last year should pay back the money that they were illegally paid out of that illegal stay in office. Arising from that your honour, one former minister has indicated to this country that he is not likely to pay as the person to blame is President Lungu for misdirecting his ministers yet another minister has said he is willing to pay. What is the position of government and when are you telling this house the measures you are instituting to ensure recovery of this money which was illegally obtained?” asked Mweetwa.
In response, the Vice-President claimed that she could not give a position then because government had not yet received a copy of the Court’s ruling.
“Mr Speaker, we are dealing with more than 60 former ministers and deputy ministers and that is a large number, so we can not base our conclusion on that matter on a statement made by one minister. And we have not yet received the judgment from the Courts, so we are awaiting that report from the court and the matter will be dealt with after the consultations within the ranks of the ministers have been concluded,” Wina said.
And the Vice-President struggled to explain why President Lungu was advocating for an increased term of office for an elected Head of State.
This was after Bweengwa UPND member of parliament Kasautu Michelo asked why President Lungu said he could not manage to deliver on his promises to Zambians in five years, when late president Levy Mwanawasa managed to do so in three years.
“Mr Speaker, the constitution of Zambia specifies a term limit of five years and five years. If a Presidential candidate wants to extend their tenure of office, that is a constitutional matter that I can not comment on. However, we have seen in many countries including Africa where Presidents have gone on for 20 to 30 years as Presidents but that is according to their constitutions and in Africa there are some countries where constitutions have been changed. I do not advocate for any change in our constitution to address the issue of Presidential candidates but we should look at the time that a President has spent in office, so let’s wait for the court to arbitrate on matters of this nature,” Wina said.
Meanwhile, Vice-President Wina said the country would still remain a friend of Zimbabwe because former president Robert Mugabe had done a lot for Zambia.
She was responding to Senanga UPND member of parliament Mukumbuta Mulowa who wanted to find out if President Lungu would look for a new mentor since President Mugabe had been removed from power.
“Mr Speaker, all the liberation leaders in our region are our role models including former president Mugabe. Mr Mugabe did a lot for this country and simply because he has fallen out of power, we can’t abandon him now. However, the new government in Zimbabwe is also Zanu-PF so there is very little difference. Zanu-PF was an independence party and Mnangagwa is still following the policies of Zanu-PF and as a matter of fact, when President Lungu attended his inauguration, the two Presidents had a long discussion on the renewed relationship between Zambia and Zimbabwe,” said Wina.
“What we could see coming out of this country was for certain quarters trying to put a wage between PF and Zanu-PF and also between the new President and our leader in Zambia. This can not be allowed and if you [the UPND] are comfortable with your new relationships and your new mentors especially leaders like [Julius] Malema in some countries, you are welcome because that is your political preference and PF will choose leaders to align themselves with. I can assure the honourable member that this country called Zambia has a strong relationship with the new government of Zimbabwe.”