IT is an injustice akin to slavery to order former ministers to repay salaries and allowances after they worked and earned the money, Attorney General Likando Kalaluka has told the Constitutional Court.
Arguing in an affidavit in which he has asked the court to reopen and review its judgment ordering ministers to repay salaries and allowances, he has charged that a person cannot be made to work without pay as it would be tantamount to slavery.
He has contended that the ministers should not be made to suffer injustice arising from an ambiguity in the law which left them vulnerable.
“It is in this regard that we maintain that to order that the former ministers pay back the salaries and allowances received after dissolution of Parliament is an injustice especially considering that they were directed to remain in office on the basis of ambiguous and obscure provisions,” he said.
He further submitted that the ConCourt’s order for the ministers to pay back salaries and allowances contradicted constitutional provisions and well-established principles which provided that no person should be required to perform forced labour.
“This Honourable Court acted in forgetfulness of the above constitutional and internationally recognised human right or principle of no work without pay,” he stated. This is in a matter in which the Court is on 3rd November expected to hear an appeal for the court to re-open the matter in which the ministers were ordered to pay back the salaries and allowances they received. “This Honourable Court having found that the relevant provisions (Articles 116(3) (e) and 117 (2) (d)) of the Constitution lead to an absurdity, it is an injustice to order the Respondents (ministers), who were directed to continue in office by the Republican President in reliance on such provisions, to repay the salaries and allowances they had worked for,” he submitted.
He stated that the ConCourt acknowledged that the relevant constitutional provisions were capable of more than one meaning, adding that it enjoined Parliament to address that ambiguity as the appointment of ministers from Parliament and their continued stay in office after Parliament was dissolved was obscure. In the alternative, the Attorney General has submitted that the President exercised his executive authority and directed the ministers to remain in their respective offices, and that the President and the State have derived benefit from such services, adding that the President’s action amounted to a promise to pay for the services rendered notwithstanding the ConCourt’s Order that they were not entitled to continue holding office after Parliament was dissolved.
“There was an employment contract between the respondents and the President and or the State, and that the respondents having performed their part of the contract, it is imperative that they are duly paid for their services rendered,” he said.
The Attorney general has called upon the ConCourt to exercise its residual jurisdiction to reopen an appeal which it had already determined in order to avoid injustice on the part of the ministers.