DOUGLAS Syakalima

UPND senior presidential advisor Douglas Syakalima says time will catch up: “with these thieves,” in ministers and deputy ministers who remained in office when Parliament was dissolved in May 2016.

President Edgar Lungu dissolved Parliament on May 13, 2016 and offered faulty legal counsel to 64 of his ministers and deputies to remain in office.

However, on August 8, 2016 (three days before the polling day for that year’s general elections), the Constitutional Court of Zambia delivered judgment invalidating the ministers’ and deputies’ stay in office.

The ConCourt has since ordered them to reimburse the State, but nothing has materialised so far.

In September last year, President Lungu said his ministers who worked illegally while Parliament was on recess were ready to pay but wondered whether they should pay every penny they got or just allowances.

He also wondered whether the ministers worked for free while their input was to the benefit of the nation.

“I talked to some of my technocrats and ministers and they said they were willing to pay. But they didn’t know whether they should pay the full salary, the allowances, those who were paying rentals – the rentals and so on. They are not sure. And they are saying, ‘besides, we worked’ and that’s a very valid moral argument. I asked the International Labour Organisation to give me some of the conventions we’ve subscribed to as Zambia [and] some of them don’t encourage working for mahala [free] or slave labour,” President Lungu said then.

The President further revealed that some of the ministers had threatened to sue him over the money they worked for during that time.

“So, are you saying those ministers fondokadi (laboured) for nothing? That’s the question. Some of them (ministers) were saying ‘we’ll sue you, Mr President, because you made us work for nothing.’ I said ‘sue me, but I’ll be indemnified by the same State,” he said. “My reaction was [that] sue me and you sue the Attorney General because you worked for nothing. You travelled to sign protocols and agreements and negotiated loans, which loans have benefited this country. Are we saying those loans, agreements which were signed are invalid because those people worked illegally?”

He continued: “we have a lot of questions, as the State, not that we are challenging the courts of law on this particular one.”

“You worked but the courts said you worked illegally. So the ministers asked me ‘so, if we worked illegally, the benefits of our work, who enjoyed them?’ The Zambian people! You mean there’s no principle of law which says we should be paid for the work done? I don’t know! I don’t want to be at loggerheads with the State or the courts of law – I respect them so much because of my background as a lawyer,” said President Lungu. “I know that we should not question some of these decisions but this one is being questioned. We are really thinking hard. As I was coming here this morning, somebody was saying ‘so, those agreements we signed, are they invalid…?’ And I said that’s a jurisprudence question, it’s a very complicated one, it’s not for me.”

But Syakalima, the Chirundu UPND member of parliament, called The Mast on Monday and said: “tumbi twaambo tutani kooni pe (some issues should never be forgotten).”

“Time is running out for the PF ministers who stayed in office when they were not supposed to be there. Pay back now! Next year you are out of power and it may not be good for you. The Constitutional Court has pronounced itself several times that these people stole money by false pretences,” Syakalima said. “They should have been in jail by now for stealing government money. They are basically thieves! They shouldn’t be roaming the streets of Lusaka. No! You do not remain in office as a minister when Parliament is dissolved. You don’t even need to be a lawyer [to understand that].”

He insisted that those concerned must pay back the money “now.”

“For four years they have been trying to duck – they don’t want to pay. Time will catch up with these thieves. What type of thieves are these? These people have actually dented the image of our country,” noted Syakalima. “These thieves must be reminded that power gets away when the owners demand it from you. The owners are demanding for it – that I can tell you. This is why the citizens must be respected. When I say pay back, I see beyond my nose. When I have warned like this, things come to pass. You ignore my advice at your own peril.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here