ANY minister who signed government deals with contractors,suppliers or traders must be arrested forthwith, demands UPND presidential candidate Hakainde Hichilema.
The Constitutional Court on Monday delivered a milestonejudgment, ordering Cabinet, deputy and provincial ministers to immediately vacate office on grounds that their continued stay in government afterdissolution of Parliament was illegal.
The Constitutional Court further ordered the ministers topay back all the salaries and allowances they had accrued since the dissolution of Parliament.
This is against the background that President Lungu ordered the ministers to stay in office on grounds that despite the dissolution ofParliament, the Head of State was required by law to stay in office togetherwith his appointed Cabinet in order to handover power to the next government.
Commenting on the Constitutional Court’s decision, Hichilema, the opposition front runner ahead of tomorrow’s general elections,said the interpretation of the judgment was that the ministers were stealing and illegally signing government contracts.
“Its theft, there is no better way to put it than that. What the Constitutional Court is saying is that these 63 ministers have not only been drawing illegal salaries and allowances, but they have also
been signing illegal deals on behalf of the Zambian government,” Hichilema said.
He said all ministers must be probed and arrested over the illegal decisions they made while illegally in office.
“Think of the number of decisions that the Minister ofFinance has made since May! How many contracts, deals has he appended with contractors,suppliers? Imagine three months of illegal procurement, workshops, talk time,fuel, salaries, rentals! How about the numerous trips ministers made across theworld illegally, using taxpayers money?” Hichilema wondered.
“As UPND, we are saying these ministers must face the law.Any minister ho signed such illegal contracts on behalf of government must bearrested because we warned them and they refused to listen. We also expect themto vacate government houses immediately and park the government vehicles theyhave been using to campaign. In fact, this judgment also means that should any of these ministers be elected members of parliament, the UPND will petition theresults on grounds
that they illegally used state resources to campaign.”
He said the UPND, if voted into power, would recover themoney from the PF ministers and put to better use.
“We have always been advising on cutting excessivegovernment expenditures in order to channel resources to other needy sectors but President Edgar Lungu and his PF have been a true reflection of a greedyleadership in government,” said Hichilema.
“However, we would like to state that if they do not pay as ruled by the court, once in government, the UPND will ensure that they pay back because that is taxpayers money. We also call on the Zambians to vote out Edgar Lungu and his ministers for stealing in broad daylight.”
And UPND campaign manager Dipak Patel said the Secretary tothe Cabinet should immediately compute the money immediate past ministers obtained illegally and make the information public.
“The Secretary to Cabinet is reminded that he is a public servant and owes the Zambian public an open and transparent process of collecting the illegally gotten public money by all the ministers,” said Patel.
“After 100 days of having stayed in office illegally andgetting paid and abusing state resources, the truth has come home to roost, and this is an indictment on President Lungu who insisted that the ministers muststay in office, knowing too well that doing so was illegal.”
And President Lungu said he had accepted the Constitutional Court’s decision on minister.
Meanwhile, some Zambians turned to social media to express their feelings over the Constitutional Court judgment.
L’ckson Hamooya: “It was obvious and clear cut. Don’t evenknow how the President understood the Constitution.”
B-kissy Kabanza: “The judicial system under President EdgarLungu has really improved. Justice is prevailing in all corners. Indeed the man is not interfering in the judicial system.”
Kelvin Crispy: “The president failed to interpret the law to his ministers despite him being a lawyer. Imagine if he is given another 5 years,won’t he just turn this country into a lawless one?”
Daniel M Mbewe: “Expected decision. Even the one who told them to hold on to office (the President) should also be brought to task, if not, Zambia has a basis to vote him out.”
Mafulo Graham: “This case was straight forward, it shouldnot have gone to the courts of law. How can somebody remain a Minister when the foundation of being an MP is dissolved? Bravo LAZ!”
Kwandu Kingsley: “Article 72 (1) A Member of Parliamentshall, except the Speaker and the DeputySpeaker, vacate the seat in the National Assembly upon a dissolution of Parliament. Way forward, pay our monies.”