State House spokesperson Isaac Chipampe says President Edgar Lungu ordered ministers to stay in office in 2016 because that was the interpretation of the law by the executive at the time, but the judiciary has corrected him now and he can’t interfere with the court ruling that ordered ministers to pay back their illegal salaries.

And President Lungu says he is consulting technocrats on the way forward since some ministers have refused to pay back because they provided a service.

Last week Justice Minister Given Lubinda told the media that he would not pay back the money he earned after dissolution of parliament in 2016, saying doing so would be a violation of his human rights.

But speaking on Saturday morning after his routine morning exercises at State Lodge in Lusaka, President Lungu said he respects the Constitutional Court ruling that has ordered former ministers who illegally accrued salaries and allowances to pay back.

The President however said he was still consulting technocrats on how to proceed with the matter since some former ministers are arguing that they rendered a service to the people of Zambia.

When contacted to clarify what the Head of State meant, Chipampe said the President would not interfere with the court’s ruling.

He explained that ConCourt ruling had been made and that it was up to individual ministers to obey the ruling, emphasising that the President respected the rule of law and had no role to play in the judgement.

“Let me put it this way; the ruling came from the Judiciary, isn’t it? The President is from the Executive and then of course there is Parliament. So we have got three arms of government, which is the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature and these three arms of government are not supposed to interfere in the work of the other. So if a ruling was passed by the Judiciary, the Executive cannot interfere in that ruling. So you don’t expect the President to interfere in the ruling of the Concourt. So that’s how I can answer that question. The ruling was made and the President cannot interfere in the ruling, the President respects the rule of law,” Chipampe explained

But reminded that the President already interfered with operations of another arm of government when he directed ministers to stay in office after the dissolution of Parliament in 2016, Chipampe said the directive was made out of the Executive’s interpretation of the law at the time.

“That was the interpretation of the Executive [at the time], that the ministers should continue working. But now, the Judiciary has corrected the same. So you stick to the ruling, the Judiciary has interpreted and everyone should stick to that ruling. But the President has no say in the ruling, it is not his role to tell the ministers to pay back. The President has no role in the ruling, the ruling has been made and it’s up to individuals to obey the ruling,” said Chipampe.