Former Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba has advised former ministers to pay back monies accrued during their illegal stay in office, warning that failure to immediately do so will be “deferring problems”.

And Kabimba says the only consulting which President Edgar Lungu should be doing with technocrats is on how the money must be paid back to the Treasury.

In an interview, Kabimba, said it was impossible for the affected ministers to “wish away” the Constitutional Court ruling and warned that the next government would recover the money, with interest.

Kabimba said the affected former ministers would save their families from harassment and stress if they obeyed the court ruling while they still had some money.

“It is important that the minsters that are affected by the Constitutional Court judgment on paying back money for having stayed in the office illegallly own up and pay that money now. The consequence of ignoring the enforcement of that judgment, it’s in my view deferring problems and misery on their part. Because the judgment will not go away, it will stand for as long as monies are not paid. It doesn’t matter how long it is going to take, but the judgment of the court is a judgment of the court and it must be honoured and respected by those that are affected by it,” Kabimba said.

“Time will come in the future when none of them is a minister anymore because nobody has been in power in perpetuity, they will still find this judgment and what will happen at that stage is that the principle sum they should have paid last year or this year would have accumulated interest and the new government then will have no choice but to listen to the outcries of the people that this judgment be enforced against each individual minister that is covered by the judgment. The result of that is that the amounts will be so colossal that they will wipe out whatever little, in terms of wealth they would have accumulated over the years. Some of them may even die and leave their families in problems. So wise men look into the future and foolish men only look at the present.”

Kabimba insisted that a ConCourt judgement was final.

“You will be doing a great service to live as a free individual in the future if you pay back that money. You will also be doing a great service to your family not to subject them to harassment and stress. You can’t wish a court judgment away. It can only remain silent for now for as long as those affected are in the office. But one day in the future, it will resurrect because this is a judgment that the ConCourt has handed down on behalf and in the interest of the Zambian people that that money which was given to them by way of salaries and emoluments is from the Treasury which is owned by the Zambian people. So, like the Nigerian saying goes, ‘wealth will find its way back to its true owners’. So one day in the future, the money that was disbursed from the Treasury, the money that belongs to the Zambian people will have to find its way back to its true owners who are the Zambian people. But I think there must be honour and integrity in those of us that are in public office when it comes to such matters,” Kabimba said.

And commenting on President Lungu’s statement that he was consulting technocrats on the way forward since some ministers had already refused to pay back, Kabimba said the only thing that would make sense was for the President to ensure his ministers obeyed the court ruling.

“What makes sense really is to enforce the judgment because under the current Constitution, the decision of the Constitutional Court is final. So I hope by consulting the technocrats, the President is talking about finding ways and means as to how that money should be paid back to the treasury. But that consultation cannot upset the judgment of the court,” said Kabimba.