The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) council has called on Justice Minister Given Lubinda to resign, saying his continued stay in office is a perpetual blight on the rule of law in Zambia.
LAZ was reacting to Lubinda’s declaration that he will not pay back the money as directed by the Constitutional Court which ruled that all ministers who illegally stayed in office after the dissolution of Parliament in 2016 should refund their salaries and allowances.
During the COSTA programme on Diamond TV, Monday, Religious Affairs and National Guidance Minister Rev Godfridah Sumaili said Zambia was a country of laws and urged all ministers who illegally stayed in office to pay back the money, but when the television station contacted Lubinda for a reaction, the Justice Minister said he would not pay because doing so would be against his human rights.
“Matters of morality cannot be transferred, if anyone thinks that their rights can be infringed upon by the judiciary, I cannot comment on that I can only comment on my own position and I cannot be swayed by the minister of religious affairs. She is at liberty to take that position but I still stand with my position that I cannot hold the office of Minister of Agriculture at my own will. I was performing an instruction given to me by a legitimately competent authority,” said Lubinda.
But LAZ describe this statement as a blight to the rule of law.
“If the statements attributed to the Minister are true, we demand that the Minister should resign from his position as Minister of Justice because continuing in office with his stance on the matter would be utterly inappropriate and a perpetual blight on the rule of law in our country. We also call upon the President to dismiss any serving Minister or government official who is subject of the said judgment of the Constitutional Court and who refuses to pay back because not doing so would be a mockery on the Government’s stated commitment to the rule of law,” it stated.
“The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) is deeply perturbed by reports in the media indicating that the Honourable Minister of Justice, Mr Given Lubinda has stated that he will not comply with the judgment of the Constitutional Court, in the case of LAZ v Ngosa Simbyakula and 63 others, which ordered the former Ministers who had illegally stayed in cabinet after the dissolution of parliament to pay back what they earned during their illegal stay in office, ‘because doing so would be a violation of his rights’.”
The council stated that the minister’s sentiments were a source of concern as he should be in the forefront to champion rule of law and order in the country.
“LAZ asserts that the unfortunate statements attributed to the Honourable Minister of Justice, if true, are a serious assault on the rule of law and constitutionalism in our country and are a recipe for anarchy. The rule of law demands that any decision of a court of law must be obeyed by all parties affected by it unless there is a stay of execution of the decision or unless the decision is overturned by an appellate court. LAZ is seriously concerned that such statements are being attributed to the Minister of Justice, who should be in the forefront to champion the rule of law and respect for decisions of our legitimately constituted courts,” the council stated.
And LAZ said it would continue engaging its lawyers on the matter to pursue all lawful avenues in ensuring that the judgment of the Constitutional Court is enforced.
“LAZ also calls upon the Attorney General, the Secretary to the Cabinet and the Secretary to the Treasury to ensure that the money that the Ministers were paid is recovered without further delay as the funds belong to the public. In the meantime, LAZ will continue engaging its lawyers in the matter to pursue all lawful avenues to ensure that the judgment of the Constitutional Court is enforced,” stated the council.