Simeza Sangwa gives PF ministers 7-day ultimatum to pay back

SIMEZA Sangwa and Associates has written to three law firms asking them to compel ministers who were illegally in office in 2016 to pay the money due to the Republic into a given bank account number.

The account is with Stanbic Bank Zambia Limited, and the amounts due are to be paid within seven days from November 27, 2019.

This is in the case of Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) versus Ngosa Simbyakula and 62 others of 2016.

Simeza Sangwa and Associates’ letter has also been copied to K Mwale and Company, the LAZ president and the Attorney General.

The law firms which have been written to are Ellis & Co., D.H. Kemp & Company and Lungu Simwanza & Company, all of Lusaka.

“Dear sirs, The Law Association of Zambia v Ngosa Simbyakula and Sixty-Two Others: 2016/CC/11 According to the judgment of the Constitutional Court dated 10th August 2016, your clients were ordered to pay back all the emoluments received from the Republic between 12h May 2016, when Parliament was dissolved and 10th August 2016, when the judgment was delivered,” the letter read in part.

“Kindly advise your clients to pay the money due to the Republic into our clients’ account, whose details appear below, within seven (7) days from the date of this letter. If these funds are not received within the appointed period, we will move the court. The Account details are: Account name: Simeza Sangwa and Associates, Bank: Stanbic Bank Zambia Limited, Account number: 9130001481278, swift code: SBICZMLX, branch code: 040002, branch: Lusaka main.”

Simeza Sangwa and Associates added that since the three law firms’ clients’ efforts to overturn the judgment have failed, “we ask you, as officers of the court, to advise them to respect the court and pay the money they received, whose quantum they individually know, to avoid further and unnecessary applications before court.

“As soon as the funds are received, the same will be remitted to the appropriate account of the Republic to be advised by the Attorney General, to whom we have taken the liberty to copy this letter,” stated Simeza Sangwa and Associates.

Meanwhile, LAZ president Eddie Mwitwa, in an interview on the matter of ministers paying back, said there would be instances where the court could determine or prescribe the timeframe.

“But if there’s no timeframe to prescribe…the court, when it makes an order, it must be complied with immediately, unless there’s a condition that has been placed giving you time beyond the date of the order. But if there’s no date given, it means compliance must be immediate,” he said.

On whether there was a possibility that LAZ could engage bailiffs, Mwitwa responded: “yes, yes.”

“But only after the amounts have been determined by the court. You see, even if any of the ministers, for argument’s sake, Honourable Harry Kalaba came and said ‘I’m willing to pay K20,000; this is what I earned.’ Then he fails to pay that K20,000, for us we can’t execute that particular decision until we come to the court because the bailiffs only move on the basis of the decision from the court,” Mwitwa explained.

“So the court should say ‘yes, Harry Kalaba must pay K20,000’ and if he fails, the bailiffs move in. So yes we can (engage bailiffs).”

He further said there were lawyers who were representing each of the 64 respondents and that: “we’ve written to them to say tell us how much your clients earned.”

“Let them (concerned ministers) pay that amount to our client account – meaning the LAZ account – and then we’ll pay it to the State,” he said.

“So I just need to re-confirm with our lawyers what timeframe they were given. If that timeframe elapses and there’s no response, then we’re at liberty now to come back to court and say “we’ve attempted but we haven’t gotten anything, so can the court now assess how much should be paid.”

Mwitwa said once that was done, “we have to go through a trial which will lead to so many things because at trial we have to call evidence.”

“You see, ministers’ salaries, at some point, are a matter of law. The law says ‘this is how much this person must earn’; the Vice-President, Attorney General and whoever’s emoluments are in the law. But then there are those allowances; if I travel outside the country, I’m the only one who knows how much I get. So those are the things that they will need to come and tell us. If they don’t come, then we can subpoena the Secretary to the Treasury or the Secretary to the Cabinet,” Mwitwa said.

Reminded that President Edgar Lungu, during a media interaction at State House on November 8 said the ministers’ illegal stay “benefited” Zambians, Mwitwa countered that such argument was already raised in court.

“The court said ‘no, you were in office illegally.’ You can’t do an illegal act and hope to benefit from it because then that will be chaos. I’ll kill anybody and simply say he wanted to kill my neighbour…” he said.

“But the point is the court made a decision on that particular issue and said ‘you were in court illegally. So whatever you did was a nullity.’ So it’s an issue that has already been pronounced upon by the court.”

Mwitwa appealed to the President to simply encourage the ministers to pay back and to take action against those that don’t.

“We understand the difficult position that he (President Lungu) is in but he must be the person in the forefront promoting and upholding the rule of law,” he said.

“The Constitution says that is part of the executive function – upholding the Constitution and the rule of law. He took oath to do just that (and) he must do it.”

If all avenues to recover the money fails, Mwitwa said, it would then become a matter for the people to determine whether those refusing to obey the law: “are suitable to be in office now and in future.”

“At that particular point, we may have to bring back the issue to court to challenge the decision of whoever is responsible for ensuring that those payments are made,” said Mwitwa.

“There’s a motion in Parliament that has been suspended on impeachment. I believe it relates to this same issue (of illegal ministers); that the Constitution was violated by the President. It’s (impeachment motion) another way of ensuring that the Constitution is respected. But that process, for some reason, has been put on hold. I’m not sure what the reasons [for halting the motion] are.”

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