Zambia: Court Orders Zambia Cabinet Out of Office

Zambia’s governing party has been dealt a blow by the Constitutional Court after it ordered Cabinet ministers to vacate their offices.

About 6.6 million Zambians will be voting on Thursday in a General Election and a referendum.

President Edgar Lungu said his party would accept the court’s decision.

“I had a different opinion. We have to comply with the court decision. The courts have decided,” President Lungu told state broadcaster.

In May, President Lungu defended his decision to retain ministers after the dissolution of parliament, saying it was backed by law and was not a ploy to siphon government resources ahead of the election.

The Law Association of Zambia sued the government saying the ministers’ continued stay in office was illegal.

The ministers were also to pay back the salaries they have been drawing from state coffers.

The outcome might affect the governing Patriotic Front’s popularity, especially in urban areas, or even act as a basis for an election petition. The decision to keep ministers in office was opposed by several quarters.

President Lungu, promising stability and continuity, is seeking re-election after winning the January 2015 contest to replace the late Michael Sata.

He is facing a stern challenge from the United Party for National Development (UPND) flagbearer Hakainde Hichilema, who was promising to fix the economy. Mr Hichilema lost the January 2015 vote by 27,000 votes.


Meanwhile, Zambia has declared Thursday a public holiday.

The Secretary to the Cabinet, Dr Rolanda Msiska has, however, directed institutions providing essential services to ensure that the operations were not disrupted on Thursday.

In another development, the Zambian government has dismissed a report by the International Press Institute (IPI) that it instigated the closure of the country’s leading private newspaper in order to stifle criticism during the campaigns for this week’s general election adds Xinhua. The IPI has released a report on the closure of the Post Newspaper following its mission to Zambia last month.

The report finds that the ongoing seizure of the newspaper’s offices by the country’s tax authorities as well as continuing attempts to hinder its ability to continue publishing was a politically motivated attempt by the current administration to silence persistent criticism in order to hold on to power.

Mr Steven Ellis, IPI’s director of advocacy and communications said the closure was not about collecting taxes and that it could have a negative impact on democracy in the southern African nation.

But Chief Government Spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili has dismissed the report, saying it was flawed and recklessly injured the government’s efforts to further democracy in the country.

Source: The Nation.