FORMER foreign affairs minister Harry Kalaba and Minister of Tourism and Arts Ronald Chitotela have paid back the salaries they were paid during their illegal stay in office as ruled by the Constitutional Court in 2017.

Speaking to journalists after making the payment, Kalaba, who is now opposition Democratic Party president, wondered why the payment process had to be so obscure and urged government to attach seriousness to court judgements.

“It’s very obscure, actually I am surprised because it took me a lot of effort to even establish where I should take my receipts, you know. After paying at the bank, where do you take your copy of the deposit slip, all that up to now has not been set in place deliberately to frustrate the process. I think government must be serious with honouring court judgements because it’s not clear where you have to take the slip, it was only my initiative that I have to give the Attorney General, who is supposed to be the lawyer of government to be in custody of that slip. So, if he is going to forward it to the Accountant General, the Minister of Finance or whoever, that is yet to be established, but otherwise, the process is very obscure,” Kalaba said.

He advised his colleagues, who had also stayed in office illegally, to respect the court ruling and pay back the money they obtained to the Treasury.

“My advice to them is that pay, he who goes to equity must go with clean hands. It’s the same Constitutional Court that upheld that President Lungu should continue in 2016 after the elections, it’s the same Constitutional Court, which has again ruled that ministers who stayed in office must pay back. So, we must respect the decision and everyone must pay,” Kalaba advised.

The former Bahati PF member of parliament added that he had fulfilled his obligation and said the process should have ended quicker so that the nation could attend to more important issues.

“What this means is that, I have fulfilled my duty as a citizen because the Constitutional Court had ruled that ministers, who had stayed in office, must pay back and I have just paid back and I am doing what the courts have directed. As someone aspiring for the (Republican) Presidency, I must not only be seen to follow the law, I must be on the side of the law and, therefore, I am glad that this day has come,” Kalaba said.

“I have always said even when I was a sitting minister way back in 2017 in September when the first ConCourt decision was made, I had said, ‘we should pay’ even when the leadership at the time was resisting to pay, I was the only one who asked (the former) secretary to the cabinet (Dr Roland Msiska) to give me modalities, which I could have used for me to pay. So, I am only happy that this thing has happened and I didn’t think it shouldn’t have taken this long! These are small matters, which should not be taking the attention of the nation, we have got more grave issues to deal with and when the courts have adjudicated, we should be seen to respect the adjudications of the Judiciary.”

He said it was unfortunate that the matter took long because others challenged the court decision.

“We could have saved the court’s time and resources for the people of Zambia and placed our collective energy to other constructive areas of poverty alleviation, addressing the ever-growing divide between those who have and those who do not have. More importantly, our youth are looking for hope and that much-needed help of being employed as the nation cries for leadership to help address the current economic challenges that are fast turning the Copperbelt ‘mu chibolya’,” said Kalaba who hopes the funds former ministers were paying back would be put to good use such as meeting the needs of those who were economically excluded rather than “end up in the pockets of a few selfish politicians”.

Meanwhile, in a Facebook posting, Chitotela announced that despite having had issues with the judgement, he equally opted to repay the salaries he received after parliament was dissolved in 2016.
“As promised on Saturday, I have today decided to take a step with regard to respecting the decision of the Constitutional Court pertaining to payment of the monies we accumulated while in office. Much as I may not have agreed or have issues with the ruling and/or judgement, I am a law-abiding Zambian and leader who respects all arms of government. In simple terms, I have today, the 15th of December, 2020, paid the money as directed by the court,” stated Chitotela.