By Misheck Kakonde
The recent judgments overseen by the Attorney General in compensating individuals like Hon. Mwaliteta, Hon. Frank Tayali, Mr. William Banda, and the late Mapenzi a case that should be treated separately raise pertinent concerns. These compensations, while important to acknowledge, have led to substantial payouts from the state treasury, prompting a critical evaluation of their judiciousness.
It is essential to recognize that these compensations do not originate from personal accounts, be it President Hakainde Hichilema’s savings or those of the Attorney General and associated lawyers. They derive from public funds, necessitating prudent management to safeguard the state’s financial health. President Hichilema’s prior observation regarding the nation’s empty coffers adds weight to the significance of responsible fiscal governance.
The present scenario demands intervention from the President to prevent an unchecked depletion of the state treasury. While acknowledging the importance of compensations, there’s a call for the Attorney General to negotiate more reasonable amounts in these consent judgments. The substantial sums being awarded arguably exceeding what’s reasonable ought to be revised downwards, ideally to around K200,000 or lower. Unless in the loss of less of mapenzi, Vespers and many more, their life has no amount to be attached and it is hard even for me to attach a price, may their souls continue resting in peace and those involved are investigated and prosecuted. Such a move would prevent the disproportionate drain of state funds due to payments to a select few individuals.
The Attorney General holds the crucial responsibility of representing Zambian interests and should not succumb to undue pressure from a minority seeking exorbitant compensations. Their role necessitates negotiations for fair consent agreements that safeguard the nation’s fiscal stability.
However, within the confines of consent judgments, wherein both parties cannot appeal, the flexibility for direct alteration is limited. Yet, there exists a possibility for future generations to revisit these decisions through legal means, reassessing their impact on the Zambian treasury. Therefore, the Attorney general and President Hichilema should appreciate this truth.
This situation emphasizes the need for checks and balances to ensure the judicious use of state funds. The Attorney General’s role should extend beyond mere legal representation, incorporating a broader responsibility of safeguarding the nation’s financial interests. President Hichilema’s intervention can steer a course correction, addressing the trend of excessively high compensations that strain the state treasury.
Ultimately, this scenario underscores the delicate balance between honoring just compensations and ensuring responsible fiscal management a balance that requires prudent negotiation and oversight to protect the interests of all Zambians.
The author is a legal scholar, comparative politics specialist, History and Cultural Studies, expertise in international relations, negotiation, and protocol (ZIDIS). Author of the book “peering into Zambian Cultures, Ceremonies” and contributor in the book “Young Zambia between poverty and abundant resources”. Email: [email protected]