FORMER civil servants who voluntarily separated with government under a World Bank funded programme have complained that the Ministry of Justice is doing injustice to them by failing to pay them.

Twenty-one years after their retirement, the over 3,500 former government workers are still pushing for final payments of their dues and have appealed to President Edgar Lungu to intervene.

They told The Mast that in 2006, a judgment was entered in their favour and piecemeal payments of interest started three years later.

They said in 2013, the Ministry of Justice produced a report indicating that their money had been exhausted and they again went to court, who ruled in their favour.

They said in 2014, the Voluntary Separatees Association changed lawyers, from Lukona Chambers to Robson Malipenga, as they had challenges with the government, which did not assess how much each beneficiary was to get.

They said through another consent judgment, the retirees again started getting paid through Malipenga.

The retirees, who spoke anonymously, said Ministry of Justice senior officials have disregarded President Edgar Lungu’s order last month to pay them.

“From the time the President made the pronouncement, Justice is not doing justice to us,” the retirees complained. “First, they said we belong to so many lawyers who are representing us and indeed this is true but they wrote to respective lawyers demanding that they submit lists of clients they are representing and how much they have been paid so far.”
The retirees said the seven law firms submitted lists and the number of beneficiary ballooned to 8,000 from 3,523 because of duplications, further complicating the matter.
However, the retirees said the government had a master list of beneficiaries and how much each had been paid.

They said following the confusion, the retirees were asked to choose the lawyers they wanted to be paid under.

They said there was a cartel at Ministry of Justice that was working with some lawyers to frustrate payments to them.

“It has become a problem because we are told to submit termination letters of 1999, last pay slips, account numbers, NRCs and these were submitted but after some follow-ups, we are now being told that they are now going to provinces to compile data of beneficiaries,” they complained. “We told them that we have waited for too long to be paid but they said ‘yes, you have waited 21 years you can as well wait until we do our work’. We told them people were dying and they said ‘people have not stopped dying’; are these really servants? There is too much injustice. What they are doing is delay our payments while they continue drawing allowances to go to provinces to compile lists which they already have.”

They wondered why President Lungu’s directive was not being taken seriously by his subordinates at Ministry of Justice.

“His pronouncements are being undermined by these officials; they are overlooking the President. We don’t believe [justice minister Given] Lubinda is aware of what is happening. President Lungu should intervene to see to it that his pronouncement is respected, people are undermining his authority,” the retirees said. “A top man says this and the junior officer says something else. We are so many of us including Classified Daily Employees who are languishing. People are wondering whether the President actually meant his word. This process is benefiting lawyers and officials more than the actual owners. They don’t have a heart for us, they are making money at our expense.”

Asked how much each has been paid so far, the retirees said by 2013, each had received K125,000.

“2021 nayo ilekokola (election year is delaying), in this matter the government should have protected us from these vultures we call lawyers and officials,” said the retirees.


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