PF lawyers in payment quandary

Billions of Kwacha owed to most lawyers and associates handling the over 80 Patriotic Front (PF) election petitions may not be paid.

A veteran lawyer has disclosed that lawyers, not law firms, were recruited to handle the petitions which were commenced as a matter of policy by the Patriotic Front Secretariat in a bid to increase its numbers in Parliament.

“The names of these lawyers were communicated to the PF secretary general, and latest correspondence confirms that these lawyers are supposed to be paid an agreed amount multiplied by the number of petitions they handled.” He said.

These fees, he said, were different from their monthly salaries. The lawyer could not say how much each lawyer is supposed to be paid.

“It is sad and unfair because these junior lawyers are the back bone of the PF petitions. They did most of the work and are now busy preparing records of appeal. But all this may be for nothing notwithstanding that these associates have duly earned their allowances.” He said.

He urged the President and the PF secretary general to intervene and ensure that when monies are disbursed they must seek proof that each and every junior lawyer signed for their money corresponding to the number of petitions handled since their names are appearing on Judgments.

The lawyer also asked the Patriotic Front to ask for all Judgments to confirm the persons who would sign for the money.

By Election Corruption

The excessively extravagant game of chance run by the Patriotic Front in the form of corrupt by elections is a matter that the National Assembly must consider very seriously.

Already lawyers representing the Patriotic Front are facing problems in claiming their dues from the party, but it is clear that the cost to public coffers will be even more.

With each by election the cost will run into Billions of Kwacha will inevitably be diverted from public commitment to serving the interests of the party.

This is morally wrong.

It would have been acceptable and forgivable if these petitions were, as the law provides, initiated by aggrieved candidates, but this is not the case. These petitions were initiated by the Patriotic Front secretariat and involved all the constituencies in which they lost. In other words they were commenced as a matter of party policy.

With all due respects, it is really not just and fair to ask the nation to foot the bill for a party policy that runs counter to the spirit of the law.

The law and indeed the electoral Act provides for petitions but these are meant to redress genuine issues arising from the elections, but this certainly does not mean attempts by a party to take a second chance at the ballot box, and in this case by taking advantage of incumbency.

There is no question that by elections are not only expensive but involve many arms of Government that would be better occupied attending to serious matters of concern.

Firstly the petitions have thus far clogged courts around the country. By their very nature they have enjoyed precedence over many other matters before the courts, and shortly they will occupy Supreme Court in the inevitable appeals that will arise.

Those that finally succeed will then make a demand on public coffers. This does not seem to be correct, and hopefully a viable and official challenge to this reckless expenditure can be mounted.

We have said before and would like to repeat that what is happening in Zambia has no precedence anywhere in the Commonwealth or anywhere else in the world.

There is no precedence anywhere else in the world where a party in power resorted to by-election in order to redress a shortfall in the National Assembly.

It is possible in Zambia because our culture would seem to be either naïve or indeed totally careless and uncaring about the use to which public resources are put.

The worst part is that resources for by-election WILL be found, while no money can be sourced to redress the critical water shortage afflicting our major referral hospital- University Teaching Hospital. Operations are delayed and important procedures can not be undertaken because the reticulation is inadequate.

It is a pathetic sight to see care givers bring water to the hospital for bed baths and other needs.

The results of a Presidential and general election must be conclusive otherwise it might as well be in order to hold another election today to test the veracity of the figures attained in September last year.

Our appeal is for the relevant committee in the National Assembly to question this matter seriously and make a determination as to whether this is indeed the most appropriate use of scarce public resources.