Government is challenging ‘contempt of court’ charges filed by former Principal Secretary Christopher Makileni against Attorney General (AG) Chikosa Silungwe, Secretary to the President and Cabinet Zangazanga Chikhosi and Deputy Secretary to the President and Cabinet Janet Banda over a K754 million payout.
Makileni filed for ‘contempt of court’ against the officers, saying they are not paying the consent order which government and Makileni agreed on.
Lawyer Thabo Nyirenda confirmed representing the three public officers but refused to give further details, saying he does not speak for the government.
In his affidavit in support of the preliminary objections against ‘contempt of court’ proceedings and in support of the application to set aside the ‘contempt of court’ proceedings, Nyirenda said the proceedings have been commenced irregularly.
“The applicant was legally required to personally serve the order subject of the contempt proceedings on the alleged contemnors. The contempt proceedings herein have therefore been irregularly commenced and the contempt proceedings against the Attorney General, Mr Zangazanga Chikhosi and Dr Janet Banda are incompetent.
“Further, the applicant has not obtained any leave to commence contempt of court proceedings. As such, there are no valid contempt of court proceedings before this Honourable Court,” reads the affidavit in part.
In the consent order, Makileni and the government agreed that the former might have lost the money after being unfairly dismissed by the Democratic Progressive Party’s administration after he was accused of being a People’s Party sympathiser.
Makileni was awarded K216 million in pension, K205 million for loss of motor vehicle use, K269 million for salary before tax and K63 million for fuel as his benefits.
His lawyer Paul Maulidi insisted he did not apply for contempt of court as such but that he only asked the court to summon the three public officers to explain why they are not paying his client when there is a valid consent order.
He said after the application, he has been in touch with the AG to try and resolve the issue.
“There is a consent order which was duly signed by us and the government. They are not paying and all we are saying is that they should explain why. I talked to the AG so that we possibly review the consent order. But the review is not about the amount being too big,” Maulidi said.
Chancellor College Dean of Law Sunduzwayo Madise said the problem is that the two parties agreed in private and only brought what they had agreed to the court for endorsement.
“It would have been different if it was something argued in a court of law and then a judgment was made. We would have known arguments from both sides in that case and it would have been easy to comment on it,” Madise said.
There has been an outcry from various stakeholders including social media enthusiasts who are suspecting that there was conspiracy to defraud the government apparently because the awarded amount is too big.
Banda was recently quoted as saying that government had asked the AG to withdraw the settlement because it was allegedly signed in a hurry and without the authority of the new Secretary to the President and Cabinet in August even though he was in office.