Clive Chirwa

MMD president Nevers Mumba says the court ruling in the case of Professor Clive Chirwa and Zambia Railways is landmark and confirms that late president Michael Sata did not follow the laid down procedure in terminating his contract.

Mumba, a former Republican vice-president, said the judgment sets a precedent which could salvage the nation from continued abuse of taxpayers’ money by those who hold political power.

He said the act by a sitting President was unconstitutional and has cost Zambia’s depleted treasury millions of Kwacha.

“I consider the Judgment given by Judge Chawatama in the case between Mr Clive Chirwa and Zambia Railways as a landmark ruling. The Judgment confirms that late President Sata did not follow the laid down procedure in terminating Professor Chirwa’s contract,” Mumba said.

He said as painful as the said judgment is to the taxpayer, it raises legitimate concerns that must be addressed.

Mumba wondered why the taxpayer should be paying for politically motivated actions of a sitting President?

He noted that it had become standard procedure for Presidents both in Zambia and most of Africa countries to use political office to fix opponents or those perceived to be connected to political opponents without any regard to constitutional provisions.

“This has been happening under almost all Presidents since independence. In most cases, once such vindictive behaviour has been demonstrated, the powers that be go further and manipulate and influence the fragile judiciary to rule in favour of a sitting President. In the case under discussion, with the former president having passed away, it gives us an opportunity to correct the wrongs that continue to deplete national resources,” Mumba, a clergyman, said.

He further said it was a known fact that under Sata, numerous political and vindictive decisions were made which have cost government millions of Kwacha.

He recalled that amongst many, there was a unilateral decision by Sata to cancel the Zamtel deal without following procedure.
Mumba lamented that with the misplaced decision to cancel the Zamtel deal, Zambia was asked to pay more than $382 million for abrogating contractual obligations.

He noted that the $382 million still remained unpaid.

He further said other politically motivated actions included the instant, wholesale retirement of all district commissioners and the recalling of almost all diplomatic heads of missions at the same time.

“I must mention that to recall one ambassador and prepare to send another is an expensive venture which must be done only when there is absolute need and funding. This is outside individual political decisions, including the decision to charge me with abuse of office while in Canada. This decision was made when it was announced that I would return to Zambia to contest the presidency of the MMD. Millions of Kwacha were spent by sending two sets of auditors to Canada and managing a seven-year long trial which continued long after president Sata had died, only to end up in an absolute discharge after it was confirmed that I neither handled nor mismanaged public funds,” Mumba said.

He added that there were many more cases which were initiated to fix or stop political opponents.

“The question that begs an answer is: why should the Zambian taxpayer carry the cost of these personal, politically motivated actions by a sitting President?” Mumba asked.

Further, Mumba said while the intention might be good and politically correct, it was vital that the Attorney General advises the Head of State of any ramifications of matters based on contractual agreements.

Mumba said he was now sitting on the edge concerning the steps that government had taken against Mopani Copper Mines, Konkola Copper Mines and in recent days, Copperbelt Energy Company.

He said if no due diligence had been done by government and if the decisions were knee jerk decisions, the taxpayer must start to prepare for more pay outs in legal costs.

“We, however, salute judge Chawatama for her courage in delivering such a monumental judgment which one hopes could change the quality of the office of president,” Mumba said.

Mumba suggested that Parliament deals with this anomaly by providing legislation, which compels the courts to demand that such fees and or costs are compensated from the personal estate of the President concerned.

He said to maintain the status quo would be to cheapen the dignity of the presidency and place an unnecessary burden on the shoulders of a taxpayer.

In the Prof Chirwa case, judge Chawatama awarded him damages for breach of contract of employment, full gratuity for the remaining period of his five-year contract, as well as any outstanding contractual benefits, interests on due amounts and costs for the action.

The judge said considering the special circumstances of the plaintiff’s case, the court awarded him compensation which is more than the common law award of nominal measures of damages./SM


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