Appeal against former ministers’ refunds meant to intimidate ConCourt – CiSCA

Civil Society Constitutional Agenda (CiSCA) Chairperson Bishop John Mambo says the appeal against the Constitutional Courts ruling which ordered former monsters to pay back salaries is an abuse of the judicial system and it is meant to intimidate the court.

And Bishop Mambo says government should not rush to rubbishing the impeachment motion against President Edgar Lungu but use it as an opportunity to clear serious allegations.

Meanwhile, Bishop Mambo says the PF Chairperson for Women Jean Kapata’s threats to close down Prime TV prove that all the violence against media houses experienced in the past had the blessings of the ruling party.

Speaking at a press briefing, Monday, Bishop Mambo condemned the appeal against the ConCourt’s ruling.

“While respecting the right of the PF as an institution and that of its members to seek fair judicial recourse, it is our considered view that the act by the PF to take back this issue to court for the third time is malicious, abusive of the judicial system, reneging the culture of consequences and meant to intimidate the courts. Without prejudice, we can only reaffirm our confidence in the court’s competence when determining this issue. In the same vein, one wonders why Mr Mwila and the PF have developed interest in this case when Zambian government is not a PIG (Party and Its Government). What is Mr Mwila and PF’s loci stand in this matter?” Bishop Mambo asked.

“This issue of the ministers’ failure to adhere to the Constitutional Court ruling to pay back the money gotten during their illegal stay in office after the dissolution of Parliament in 2016 has reached scandalous levels. The level of impunity of the PF leadership in misusing public resources and disrespecting court orders is absolutely appalling. On two different occasions, the Constitutional Court, the only institution with the mandate to determine and adjudicate constitutional matters and the court with ‘original and final jurisdiction’ to hear such matters in Zambia consistently ruled that the ministers must pay back the money. Today, the PF through its Secretary General Mr Davies Mwila has taken the issue back to court. When the highest court rules in a country where you respect the rule of law, that is the end of the matter.”

He said it was shocking that Attorney General Likando Kalaluka could advise government to appeal against a ruling made by a court of final jurisdiction.

“The Constitutional Court is the final court and this was constituted by the government of the day. It is sad that the Attorney General who sits in Cabinet to advise the president who is the chairman in Cabinet has realised that he cannot go back to court. Then the party secretary general whom we ejected in 1991 that there must be a straight line between the party and government, he goes back to court…the moment this was filed, they would have thrown it away to say ‘don’t waste our time’,” Bishop Mambo said.

“The nation may wish to know that President Edgar Lungu is on record saying he was going to respect the ruling of the Constitutional Court to have ministers pay back the money at the time the court first made its ruling. We as CiSCA have sought audience with the Secretary to the Treasury and Secretary to the Cabinet to understand how much money was spent on emoluments and allowances for the said ministers and also to discuss the payment modalities. Our efforts to have such an audience have proved futile. There is clearly no interest on the part of government to be accountable to citizens. With this development, we can only conclude that those who benefitted from public resources illegally as ruled by the court have had neither desire nor intention to pay back the money. Further, it is also our considered view that either the president was not being sincere about his self proclaimed respect for the court outcome.”

And Bishop Mambo urged stakeholders to stop equating the impeachment process to bitterness or rivalry.

“We have noted with regret that the impeachment motion which is a constitutional guarantee under Article 108 of the Republican Constitution, moved by some parliamentarians has invoked mixed reactions among politicians and citizens. Unfortunately, some sections of society have either deliberately or otherwise opted to vilify, malign and scandalise the movers of the motion and those supporting it. Instead of seizing the opportunity to raise civic awareness among the masses on what impeachment and the impeachment process is and entails, government through its spokesperson Hon. Dora Siliya seems to be determined to rubbish the whole issue. As CiSCA, we believe that there is absolutely nothing impeachment unreasonable, malicious or mischievous about the impeachment motion currently before the National Assembly of Zambia. It is our considered view that the impeachment motion against the president is beneficial to all stakeholders in more ways than one including those moving the motion, the Presidency and the nation,” he said.

“The impeachment gives the president an opportunity to clear serious allegations levelled against him such as the allegedly ill acquired wealth often cited from the increase in the net worth of President [Edgar] Lungu from about K2 million in 2015 to over K20 million in 2016, among other things. Stakeholders should desist from associating the impeachment process to bitterness, rivalry or indeed any other perceived personal interest that can potentially deepen the existing political divide in this country as this is a provision in the law and the movers are constitutional ambassadors and conform to good citizenship as demanded by Article 2 of our constitution.”

Meanwhile Bishop Mambo condemned Kapata’s continued attacks on private media.

“We have noted with great concern that the PF is increasingly irritated by and often allergic to independent and critical media institutions. Media freedoms are not prerogative or a gift from the PF and those in power to give. Media freedoms are inherent and universal rights and liberties espoused and guaranteed in local, regional and international legal human rights instruments. We take great exception to the outbursts of Jean Kapata the Minister of Lands against Prime TV following a story from a Mwembeshi woman. This was not the first time that madam Kapata has threatened extra-judicial activities against a media house. You may recall that in 2017, madam Kapata threatened to close down Muvi Television for exposing a land scam in Lusaka west. We wish to call those in leadership to counter any revelations against them as public officers with facts and authentic information and not threats of violence. The conduct of Kapata clearly demonstrates that all the violence against media houses we have seen in the past from the ruling party has the blessings of the party leadership,” Bishop Mambo said.

On dialogue, Bishop Mambo said the country would only move forward if the Commonwealth or the Catholic Church spearheaded the dialogue process.

         

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