Former Secretary to Cabinet Dr Sketchley Sacika says Attorney General Likando Kalaluka must assert his authority to prevent Zambia from further slipping into a lawless state where the Constitution is no longer respected by those in power.

Commenting on President Edgar Lungu’s remarks that he was forced to question the court ruling ordering ministers to pay back salaries and other emoluments they illegally obtained by staying in office after dissolution of parliament, Dr Sacika said he found it difficult to understand the President’s reasoning.

He said Kalaluka should have resigned on moral grounds after the President ordered Cabinet Ministers to stay in office, arguing that Kalaluka had failed to render legal advice, which was respected by the Executive.

“You will recall that before the 2016 elections, Kalaluka had given the correct interpretation of the Constitution when he said that ministers would have to vacate their ministerial positions after dissolution of Parliament and that opinion was widely reported in the press. In government business, only the Attorney General’s legal opinion counts. President Lungu is a lawyer, but he is not the Attorney General of this country. So, when President Lungu decided to retain these Ministers after the dissolution of Parliament, Kalaluka should have reconsidered his position as Attorney General for this country. In fact, he should have resigned because you cannot be an Attorney General in a government where your legal advice is not respected,” Dr Sacika said.

“If government officials fail to act with integrity, who is going to protect the integrity of State institutions? Our State institutions have corruption because government officials are only interested in the remuneration they receive from government. They don’t care about ethical standing. They don’t care about integrity of State institutions. Kalaluka’s failure to assert his authority as the Attorney General as turned Zambia into a lawless country where the law and the Constitution are no longer respected by the people in power.”

And Dr Sacika charged that it was wrong for the President and his Ministers to claim benefits for an illegal action even if it was done out of ignorance.

“President Lungu and his Ministers may be safe for now because they are protected by their positions. But there are serious criminal charges when they are no longer in power. President Lungu’s misgivings over the judgement of the Constitutional Court are very difficult to understand because as far as I am concerned, the judgement is simple and straightforward. It is now up to the Secretary to the Cabinet and the Solicitor General to implement the court ruling. This has nothing to do with President Lungu. As a lawyer, President Lungu knows that ignorance of the law is no defense. He also knows that you cannot claim benefit from an act, which is unlawful. Besides, what government work did the Ministers do because all of them were campaigning for the elections! So, strictly speaking, the Ministers concerned performed no government work during the period of elections,” said Dr Sacika.