NATIONAL Democratic Congress (NDC) president Chishimba Kambwili has welcomed the decision to pay back salaries and other emoluments he accrued when he illegally stayed in office after the dissolution of Parliament in 2016.
But former North Western Province minister Dawson Kafwaya says President Edgar Lungu should be the one to pay back because he misled former ministers to remain in office.
On Monday, the Constitutional Court gave a 30-day ultimatum to 63 former Patriotic Front cabinet ministers and their deputies to bay back K4.2m they illicitly acquired for illegally staying in office after their mandate had expired prior to the 2016 Presidential and General elections.
In an interview, Kambwili said he would respect the ConCourt’s decision and that he was willing to pay K58,681.80.
“My opinion is that we have to pay. Even if today they sent me a bill that this what you have [to pay], I am going to pay. The position is that the court has ruled and I am going to pay. Even if they asked me to pay today, I am going to pay. I don’t want to talk about other people the court has ruled about me. Even if it is a collective judgement but they have ruled about Chishimba KaMbwili, I am only going to handle issues that have to do with Chishimba Kambwili. My Position is that I am going to pay,” said Kambwili.
But Kafwaya, who owes K57,811.38, said President Lungu misled ministers to illegally stay in office.
“You see, when you look at it, for us Ministers we were ready to vacate the offices immediately Parliament was dissolved. But now the President called for a press conference and that press conference he categorically explained and announced to the nation that my Ministers should stay. If you go back to the video of that press conference, he even emphasized. So we respect the Judiciary and you know when the Judiciary makes a decision, because that is the highest institution. It is the President who misled us that Ministers should stay and you see the President swears to defend the Constitution. He is the biggest employer, he appoints Permanent Secretaries, DCs for example there have been situations where a contract for Permanent Secretary has expired but the President allows them to continue waiting for their contact to be renewed to continue as Permanent Secretary. We have never heard people going to pay back when their contracts comes to an end,” he said.
Kafwaya said the decision was unfair as it was directed to the wrong people.
“For us, we were told to stay in office. So me I look at it to be very unfair to pay back the money. In fact, that decision should have been directed to the President himself because he is the number one employer to every one. For me, I take it as a shock because what about the work I did during that period? Who is going to pay me? We still left office without being paid repatriation allowance, so we have been waiting for that to be paid to us. We did a service to the people of Zambia. I feel that is just a political decision which they have failed to direct at the President. I think the Judiciary should have just directed the decision on the President,” said Kafwaya.
“As far as we are concerned, we did a service to the people of Zambia. This decision is very unfair and it has been directed to the wrong people who are very innocent in the whole thing. You can’t start looking for money to start paying for something which we worked because we were the servants for the people of Zambia. A Minister is like a civil servant, once you are appointed as a Minister, you are put as a civil servant and the person who appoints as a Minister is the President. We declare to respect the President and also the Constitution. So all in all, I feel this decision is very unfair and it has been directed on the wrong people.”