Green Party president Peter Sinkamba says dismissing or retiring public officers in public interest without showing cause for doing so is unconstitutional and illegal in Zambia.
In a statement, Sunday, Sinkamba argued that the ‘retirement in public interest’ mode of exit was usually triggered at the pleasure of the President it is abused to punish certain individuals for political and nepotistic reasons.
“According to the Public Service Pensions Act number 35 of 1996, there are several modes of exit from public service including retirement on statutory, national interest, medical, resignation, discharge, and dismissal grounds. However, there is a non-existent mode of retirement called ‘retirement in public interest’. This non-existent mode of exit is usually triggered at the pleasure of the President, and is abused to punish certain individuals for political and nepotistic reasons. The mode of exist is not provided for under the Public Service Pensions Act. So, it does not attract any pension benefits,” Sinkamba stated.
“Dismissal of the public officers in public interest, without showing cause for doing so, and without the due process, is unconstitutional, null and void. Natural justice requires that a person who is likely to be adversely affected by a decision has to be notified of the reasons for such a decision, and given an opportunity to be heard in their defence. Article 173 (3) of the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) 2016, limits arbitrary power that had previously been exercised by the Crown in the colonial era in relation to the Public Service. In particular, the amended Constitution has abolished the concept of dismissal at pleasure and will, by giving public officers a security of tenure that is superintended by an autonomous Public Services Commission.”
Meanwhile, Sinkamba asked President Lungu to stop retiring civil servants in national interest without showing cause.
“Now that the concept is demised and no longer recognized and affirmed by the Constitution, I call upon the President not to retire a single public servant or get them victimized or punished without giving just cause and subjecting them to the due process. To public service employees, if your service is terminated against your own free will, or your rank reduced, by whatever euphemism described as public interest; if you have been victimized by the President for no just cause and not subjected to the due process, refuse to vacate your office, especially when you performed functions in good faith and in accordance with the Constitution and law,” stated Sinkamba.
“The President has no such power. The other very important issue that needs to be addressed is calculation of pension benefits for public officers at exist. Whatever the mode of exit, the formula for calculation of benefits must be uniform. The existing formulae are discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional. An unconstitutional act or omission is illegal. I therefore call upon the Pension Service Commission to revise the formulae so as to have a unified formula.”