FORMER Secretary to the Cabinet Dr Sketchley Sacika says former and serving ministers should not only be made to pay back salaries they illegally obtained after parliament adjourned in 2016 but must face criminal prosecution for impersonating a public officer.

In an interview, Sacika said that it was illegal for anyone to falsely present themselves as a person employed in the public service.

“The ex-ministers should not only be required to pay back the money they received for illegally holding office, they should also face criminal prosecution for impersonating a public officer. Our Penal Code says that any person who falsely represents himself to be a person employed in the public service is guilty of an offense. And ignorance of the law is not a defence, neither can the ex-ministers plead innocence because they were acting on President Lungu’s instructions,” Sacika said

He added that the ministers were simply accomplices in President Lungu’s scheme to break the law.

“The Attorney General Likando Kalaluka had issued a statement, in which he told the nation that the serving ministers would have to vacate their positions on dissolution of parliament but President Lungu told them to ignore Kalaluka’s advice for reasons only best known to him. The ex-ministers were therefore accomplices in President Lungu’s scheme to subvert the Constitution and break the law,” Sacika said.

He said the ex-ministers should have refused to remain in office if they knew that the law prohibited their continued stay after dissolution of parliament.

“President Lungu has shown the propensity for disregarding the Constitution and the law of the land in how he is managing the affairs of our country. On this path, he is being assisted and even encouraged by his ministers and senior government officials who are telling him what he wants to hear and not what he needs to know. The ex-ministers should have said no to President Lungu’s decision that they stay in their offices in the light of Likando Kalaluka’s public statement on their position. So when they stayed on, they knew that it was unconstitutional and that their staying on was illegal,” said Sacika.

“Ex-ministers arguing that they had stayed on because President Lungu wanted them to do so are not making sense at all. You can take a horse to the river but if it doesn’t want to drink, it will not. How can a human being fail to say no to something he knows is wrong? I find it difficult to understand this kind of reasoning.”