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State insists ECL not entitled to benefits

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THE State has submitted in court that former President Edgar is not entitled to pension benefits and the decision to withdraw them after he joined politics was in accordance with the law.

It has further added that the petition challenging the decision to withdraw pension should be thrown out because the move was not a constitutional breach as alleged by Mr Lungu.

The submission was made by deputy Secretary to the Cabinet for administration Oliver Kalabo who has submitted that Government’s withdrawal of the pension benefits for the former President follows his decision to return to active politics.

This is in a response to a petition in which Mr Lungu is challenging the State’s decision to withdraw pension benefits from him after he announced that he is back in active politics.

“The Benefits of Former Presidents [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,” Dr Kalabo submits.

This is in a case Mr Lungu sued the State over its decision to withdraw his benefits following his return to active politics on October 28, 2023.

He contends that his decision to participate in active politics should not be a basis to deny him his pensions and benefits and that doing so would be an infringement of his fundamental constitutional right of expression, association and to hold opinions.

The former President submitted that the benefits accrued to him because he served as Zambia’s President and not because of his current political status.

But Dr Kalabo submits that office of the Secretary to the Cabinet acted within the provisions of the former President’s Benefit Act when Mr Lungu’s benefits were withdrawn.

“The office of the Secretary to the Cabinet took proper due diligence to ascertain whether the sixth former President was actively engaged in politics and contravening Chapter 15 of the Laws of Zambia,” he submits.

Dr Kalabo submits that it was later published in the Zambia Daily Mail edition of November 15, 2021, it was published that the PF indicated that it wanted immediate change of party leaders.

He adds that office of the Secretary to the Cabinet, in a letter dated November 25, 2021, wrote to Mr Lungu’s office inquiring whether he had continued to be PF leader.
The government official further submits that in a November 25, 2021 response letter, Mr Lungu’s office reaffirmed the earlier position given by the former head of State that he had resigned from active politics and from being PF leader.

“However, the letter stated that the sixth President awaited handing over power to the person the party would elect in his place. In the meantime, the party vice president would continue running the party,” he adds.

“On October 28, 2023, during the 9th memorial anniversary of that late President Michael Sata, the sixth President personally publicly announced his return to active politics,” Dr Kalabo adds.

(Mwebantu, Wednesday, 10th January, 2024)

Politics

Government to sink boreholes across the country

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“WITH the current devastating climate change, the government is going flat out to sink boreholes and do crop irrigation across the country”, President Hakainde Hichilema has said.

The President said his administration is determined to ensure food security despite the challenging circumstances.
“We are determined to ensure that food security is attained even during these difficult times. Let us all get involved and get it solved. We shall overcome as God will do the rest,” he said.

President Hichilema urged citizens to actively participate in the efforts, stating the collective responsibility to overcome the challenges emanating from the dry spell.

Last week, President Hichilema declared the ongoing drought a national disaster, announcing a comprehensive set of measures to mitigate its impact.

The declaration was prompted by the destruction of one million hectares of farmland, affecting over one million households across the country.

(Mwebantu, Monday, 4th March, 2024)

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Politics

‘Why are you pretending to be rich?’ HH asks Gov’t officials who insist on traveling on business class

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PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema has described government officials that prefer traveling on business class as cheats and pretenders.

The head of state has revealed that the country has limited resources and it does not make sense for a government official to move in business class at the expense of the treasury.

The president said following the declaration of a national disaster as a result of the prolonged dry spells, that there will be for prudent usage of resources.

“We will aggressively shift resources from consumption, wastage travel, and business class. Secretary to the treasury, I hear there are people who want to travel business class from Lusaka to Johannesburg?” he said, “for one hour 30 minutes [you want to be on business class], we sit on our stools for three hour we village people,”

He wondered what is wrong with a government official travelling on economy class.

What’s wrong with economy ticket for one hour 40 minutes, this is what I call pretence, for one hour 40 minutes you want to fell rich, that’s cheating,” the President said.

He said he has already given his cabinet the signal that there will be no more unnecessary travels.

“There will be no more of such things, including unnecessary travels, size of delegation, I sent this signal to my colleagues in cabinet and I have made this official, resources are limited, the question is how do we utlise the limited resources,” Mr Hichilema said.

Meanwhile, he warned that there will be accountability in the utilization of resources and those found wanting “Will be on their own”

(Mwebantu, Monday, 4th March, 2024)

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House of Chiefs commends President Hichilema’s swift response to drought crisis.

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TRADITIONAL leaders have commended President Hakainde Hichilema’s decisive action in addressing the drought.

House of Chiefs Chairperson Chief Chisunka said the President’s declaration is a timely and crucial step in mobilising resources and support to mitigate the impact of this drought on the affected communities.

Dr Chisunka said the effects of climate change, particularly the prolonged dry spells and erratic rainfall patterns, have posed unprecedented challenges to agricultural systems, water sources, and, most importantly, the livelihoods of people.

He underscored the urgent need for collaborative efforts to mitigate the challenges posed by climate change.

Dr Chisunka said the traditional leadership is committed to supporting the government and ensuring coordinated relief efforts.

“As traditional leaders, we commend President Hakainde Hichilema for his swift and decisive action in recognizing the gravity of the situation and marking our country’s debilitating drought as a national disaster and emergency. Together, we can overcome this crisis and emerge stronger and more resilient than before. We will continue to work together to build a better and brighter future for all our people,” he said.

(Mwebantu, Sunday, 3rd March, 2024)

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