Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) president Eddie Mwitwa says it is unfortunate that President Edgar Lungu is unwilling to encourage his Ministers who illegally accrued monies in 2016 after Parliament was dissolved to pay back.
Speaking during his third media conference at State House last Friday, President Lungu said he had subjected the ConCourt ruling on former ministers to further consultation because it was highly questionable and some of them were even threatening to sue him.
“…I don’t want to be at loggerheads with the courts of law, I respect them because of my background as a lawyer, and I know that we should not question some of these decisions, but this one is being questioned! We are really thinking hard. As I was coming here this (Friday) morning, somebody was saying, ‘so, those agreements we signed, are they invalid because we were in office illegally?’ And I said, ‘that’s a jurisprudence question, that’s a very complicated one, it’s not for me!’ So, it is something we want to do, and I don’t think we want to go back to court and ask ‘what are we returning back?’ It’s very complex,” said President Lungu
But in an interview, Monday, Mwitwa said the ConCourt ruling was final.
“Unfortunately, when courts make judgements, it often happens that either one party will be happy with the judgement, another one will not be happy but that doesn’t change the fact that both parties must respect the decision of the court. If the President is of the view that the judgement is questionable, we will take it that that’s his opinion on the matter, but the fact remains that as it is, it stands and must be respected and the Ministers must comply. The response, obviously, in our view, is not consistent with what he said earlier when he was interviewed; I think he said: ‘he was consulting technocrats.’ We thought the consulting was to establish how much each minister must pay back. But the statement you have shared with me suggests unwillingness from the President to encourage his ministers to pay back, which is unfortunate,” said Mwitwa.
“As far as we are concerned, the judgement of the Constitutional Court that was delivered in 2016, has not been set aside and there is nothing on record as far as we aware to challenge that judgement so the only thing that remained to be done is for the Ministers to comply with the judgement. And in our view and our position is that; if there is any consultation to be done, it is really to establish how much each of the Ministers must pay back because that, unfortunately, the Court was unable to determine because of the nature of the matter and the evidence that was presented. So, the Court left it to the parties to go back and determine the figures that each Minister must pay back so that is what we have been trying to do. Unfortunately, we have not any had cooperation so far, but we will do everything that we must do to make sure that the judgement is invoked.”