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Zambian leader urged to ensure ex-ministers cough up illegal gains

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- Stakeholders in Zambia on Wednesday urged President Edgar Lungu to ensure that former ministers pay back money in salaries and other allowances they accrued when they illegally occupied their offices as he embarks on his five-year term.

On Aug. 8 this year, the Constitutional Court ordered the ministers and their deputies to vacate their offices after they had remained in offices following the dissolution of parliament in May. The court also ordered them to pay back money they had accrued in salaries and allowances during the period.

Chimfwembe Mweenge, co-chairperson of the Zambia Elections Information Center (ZEIC), said Lungu should ensure that the former ministers and their deputies paid back the money they accrued.

He expressed concern that despite the ruling by the court, none of the former ministers and their deputies have returned the money owed, adding that disregarding the court ruling would be setting a bad precedent, according to a statement.

The government, he said, needed to tighten its fiscal spending especially during the time the country was facing harsh economic situations and that the government should demonstrate its commitment to proper utilization of public resources by ensuring that the money was paid back.

Macdonald Chipenzi, an electoral and governance expert, said it was unfortunate that the government has remained mute over the issue.

He said it was unfortunate that the government has not even disclosed how much money the former ministers and the deputies should pay back since the court’s ruling and has since challenged the Secretary to the Treasury to reveal the total amount involved.

According to him, the money owed belongs to Zambians and that the government should not be secretive about it.

Antonio Mwanza, spokesperson of the opposition Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), said the issue should not be allowed to die a natural death, and that the government should ensure that the money was paid back because it would go a long way in financing development projects, reported Zambia’s QFM radio.



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