The State has submitted that the decision by the office of the Secretary to the Cabinet to withdraw former President Edgar Lungu’s benefits was within the law pursuant to the provisions of the former President’s Benefit Act Cap 15 of the laws of Zambia.
This is in a matter in which the sixth President, Lungu, petitioned the Lusaka High Court to declare illegal the withdrawal of his benefits and other entitlements following his decision to return to politics.
The former Head of State indicated that the said Act was an infringement on his Constitutional rights of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association and protection from discrimination based on his political opinion.
But in the Attorney-General’s affidavit in opposition filed on Monday, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet Administration, Oliver Kalabo, submitted that his office took proper due diligence to ascertain whether Lungu was actively engaged in politics and contravening Cap 15 of the laws of Zambia.
Kalabo stated that the former Head of State announced on October 28, 2023,that he had returned to active politics.
“That following the former President’s announcement of his return to active politics,by a letter dated October 30,2023, Cabinet Office consequently withdrew all the Benefits conferrweby the Benefits of Former Presidents Act ,to the sixth President with immediate effect,”
“That the withdrawal of pensional the benefits is not contrary to the constitution or the international covenant on civil and political Rights(ICCPR),” he stated.
The respondant argued that the law was explicit in that it provides in no uncertain terms that the pension and other benefits conferred by the Act shall not be paid, assigned or provided to a former President who is engaged in active politics.
Kalabo further argued that the State had not in anyway infringed the Petitioner’s rights as alleged but acted within the confines of the constitution, thus, urged the Court to dismiss the petition.
“The respondant submits that it has not breached any part of the constitution by enforcing the withdrawal of the Petitioner’s pension and benefits. Rather,the respondent has acted within the confines of the law and the constitution.
“The Benefits of Former President’s (amendment) Act provides in no uncertain terms that the pension and other benefits conferred by the Act shall not be paid, assigned or provided to a former President who is engaged in active politics. The words used in the statute are plain and therefore the literal rule of interpretation is to be used,” he submitted.
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