Governance activist Brebner Changala says the refusal by ex-ministers to pay back money earned during their illegal stay in office in 2016 as ordered by the Constitutional Court is a scheme by the Executive to disregard lawful orders.
In an interview, Changala wondered why Secretary to Cabinet Dr Simon Miti had not yet calculated the funds each individual former minister owed the Treasury.
“I am disappointed with the ‘laissez faire’ approach to serious governance issues by the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu. He has proved to be unuseful in the management of the Republic of Zambia. The Constitutional Court made a ruling that, it was wrong for the ministers to stay in office and it went further, it ordered that since the ministers’ stay in office was illegal, they need to pay back the monies that they were paid in form of salaries, allowances and other benefits that they do enjoy like servants’ allowance, telephone allowance…That was a clear court order. But to buy time, the Executive has been shunting the Attorney General on more than three occasions trying to overturn the court order, but the Constitutional Court is the first and final instance,” Changala said.
“The President and his ministers have been buying time since 2016 by trying to arm twist the Constitutional Court to reverse its decision and in an unprecedented manner, knowing the kind of court that we are dealing with, the Constitutional Court has refused to reverse its decision and the ministers have been ordered to pay. But to show you the true colours of the Executive, how lawlessness has creeped in this administration, the very Minister of Justice (Given Lubinda), the very immediate boss of the Attorney General has gone public that he’s not going to pay. He’s saying this with a strong unacceptable tone of arrogance! The Minister of Justice is the first one to say it publicly that he has no regard for our court. Clearly, he has no regard for the Judiciary and one would have expected the President to admonish him and to some extent, remove him from office because he’s clearly a law-breaker! Anybody who refuses to obey court orders is a law-breaker and is not fit to hold a position of a full Cabinet Minister because that is a source of anarchy and the breakdown in the rule of law.”
Changala charged that the refusal by some of the affected ministers to pay back monies earned during their illegal stay in office was a scheme by the Executive in collusion with Dr Miti to disobey lawful court orders.
“The refusal to pay back that money as ordered by the Constitutional Court is a scheme that has been hatched by the Executive. Why do I say so? The Secretary to the Cabinet should have been in the forefront in calculating the monies that each individual minister who stayed in office is owing the Treasury. But in collusion with the President and the entire Executive, the Secretary to the Cabinet is not saying anything to that effect! Some time last year, or early this year, honourable Harry Kalaba had written to the Secretary to the Cabinet, asking him to calculate how much is outstanding in his name so that he can settle the bill and close the chapter on the amount owed to the Treasury. But I don’t think the Secretary to Cabinet has calculated the money that honourable Harry Kalaba is owing the Treasury because if Harry Kalaba paid, he would have opened up ‘Pandora’s Box’,” Changala observed.
“So, this is just a scheme by a lawless government headed by one Edgar Chagwa Lungu. These are men and women who have no remorse, these are men and women who meet in Cabinet only to plot evil against the people of Zambia. There is no better description of this group of citizens who have been entrusted with the mandate to oversee and protect the Constitution, our resources and our Treasury. I must tell you without any apologies, we are being governed by vandals! These are vandals, they have no heart for this country.”
And Changala insisted that the only way out of such anomalies was to remove PF from government through early elections.
“My demand stands again: we need an early election so that we recheck ourselves; we bring back the country to constitutionalism; to democracy; accountability and the rule of law. The Executive is now a collection of lawbreakers and they are a danger to this country. So, the longer they stay, the more misery that the people of Zambia shall suffer! There will be irreparable damage that they will cause to this country, both in terms of national unity, social fibre and economic distraction. So, let’s go back to the ballot sooner than 2021, we need an election like yesterday because we need to redeem ourselves and start afresh,” urged Changala.