Electoral Expert McDonald Chipenzi has described as landmark the ruling of the Constitutional Court ordering ministers to pay back the money in salaries obtained after the dissolution of parliament.
In a statement, Mr Chipenzi said the ruling is the best gift ever four days to the General elections.
“When this issue came first, ministers were advised to stay away from their portfolios but unfortunately they were misled by the Attorney General and President Edgar Lungu,” Mr Chipenzi said.
“It is now incumbent on all the concerned ministers to voluntarily pay back the money to avoid being forced to do so by relevant authorities.”
He added, “President Lungu and the Attorney General must apologise, if not resigning altogether, for misleading the nation on the continued stay of ministers in their respective offices despite the dissolution of parliament. I urge all Zambians to unite and join in the campaign dubbed “Payback the money today.”
The Constitutional Court has ordered Cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and provincial ministers to vacate office forthwith because their continued stay in office was against the spirit of the amended Constitution after the National Assembly was dissolved.
And the ConCourt has ordered the ministers to pay back all the salaries, allowances and other emoluments they have drawn from the treasury since May 12, 2016 when Parliament was dissolved.
Constitutional Court president Hildah Chibomba, who sat with Enock Mulembe and Mulela Munalula said the ministers’ continued stay in office was contrary to the spirit of the Constitution.
“The ministers ought not to have continued in office in the absence of the required provision that allowed them. It is contrary to the spirit of the Constitution. We do order that they should forthwith vacate office,” judge Chibomba said.
The court, however, allowed the Vice-President to continue in office so that there is no vacuum created in the governance of the country.
Judge Chibomba also ruled that the ministers knew that their continued stay in office after dissolution of Parliament was illegal and therefore saw no injustice done to them by asking them to pay back the salaries and allowances accrued.
“They should pay back all salaries and emoluments they have drawn from 12th May 2016 to date. The assessment will be conducted by the Registrar of the Constitutional Court. The ministers knew that they were in office illegally and we see no injustice done to them. We would have agreed with the Solicitor General if the Cabinet ministers were appointed from outside Parliament,” judge Chibomba said.
On deputy ministers continued stay in the office, the court said the Constitution as amended did not provide for the office of deputy minister.
“The office no longer exists in the amended Constitution. We do not agree with the Solicitor General’s submissions that deputy ministers should continue in office. Their continued stay in office after amendment of the Constitution in null and void. They should and shall not continue to hold on to office,” said judge Chibomba.