Controversy Surrounding The Upnd Government’s Compensation To Its Members Who Spent 127 Days In Detention- Edwin Lifwekelo

Edwin Lifwekelo
Edwin Lifwekelo


Lusaka…….4th September 2023

The UPND government decided to compensate its members who were detained for 127-days in a case related to the treason case in which President Hakainde Hichilema, then UPND opposition leader, was involved has raised eyebrows.The detainees were awarded a hefty sum of K6.4 million each and for obvious reasons the ” from a jack to a king” award has sparked controversy across the nation. While the government argues that it is a matter of justice, many critics however,argue that this allocation of funds is misguided, hypocritical as there are many others who deserved to be compensated but have not been compensated. Selective justice is not justice at all but means to scale up patronage and award those who are special simply because the President was part of that case.

There are many other UPND I cadres who were detained by the previous Government for various reasons but their cases have not received the attention of the President through the Attorney General’s office.In fact, there are many cases where the Attorney General has strongly opposed compensation simply beacuse the applicants may not be on the same page with the President.

What is interesting is that the State entered a Nolle Prosequi in this case of treason.

What goes around comes around.A very bad precedent has been set and the case will now open a pandora box of many victims of wrongful detention seeking redress in the Courts of Law. Compensation will be sought for hefty sums of money going by what has been awarded to those who only spent 127 days in detention and the Nolle Prosequi was entered by the State.

The most interesting case that comes to mind is that of Mumbi Phiri.She spent more time in detention, than those who received K6.4 million, and the State entered a Nolle prosequi in her case as well. Will she be one of the beneficiaries of this fantastic “windfall Lottery winning ticket”?

The decision to compensate jailed UPND members stems from the belief that they were unjustly detained because of their political affiliation during the previous government’s rule. The UPND government views this as an act of reparation and an effort to right perceived wrongs.

With this decision Zambians await what will happen to the Mumbi Phiri case should she decide to sue the State.This applies to many other cases where people where detained and in some cases on flimsy grounds and the courts decided against the state.
Justice for one must follow through to all those who may have suffered injustice in the nation.

The attorney general has a responsibility as a government lawyer not to surrender right of attorney to individuals that have Chosen to seek justice in the courts of law by defrauding the State of millions of kwachas with impunity through concert judgements and without going through court processes to determine the costs and damages that the court may decide to award the agreived parties.

While those who receive compensation may celebrate, the greatest majority of Zambians are still languishing in abject poverty with no sign of poverty abating.Standard of living is rising every day while their incomes are no where near breakeven levels.

With this scenario, one wonders whether there is any sense of responsibilty on the part of those holding the instruments of power in Government to allow wreckless and perhaps even unbudgetted for expenditures at a time such as this when the Zambian people continue grappling with the worst of times in their standard of living, in a time when medicines are not in hospitals but in Pharmacy stores where they are forced to spend the little they are left with on medicines and in a time when the number of the jobless is getting higher day by day and there is no sign of a better tomorrow.

The UPND government’s decision to compensate their previously detained UPND members with 6.4 million kwacha each is a contentious issue that highlights the complexity of balancing the call to justice and the application of justice to all on one hand and the prioritizing of the nation’s pressing needs on the other hand.

With the Pandora box opened, we wait to see if government has the financial muscle to compensate all those who suffered injustice in the previous Government and the present government. In the meantime all those who suffered injustice yesterday and today must receive equal justice for Justice is blind.

Edwin Lifwekelo

Acting PF Media Director


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