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Zambia's ConCourt orders comms minister to vacate office

Zambia's ConCourt orders comms minister to vacate office.

Zambia's Minister of Communications and Transport Kapembwa Simbao and deputy minister James Kapyanga, along with several other ministers, have been ordered by the country's Constitutional Court to vacate their positions and repay salaries and allowances remunerated over the past three months.

The Court found that the officials did not have the right to serve in their positions after President Edgar Lungu dissolved parliament in May 2016 in the run up to the country's Presidential and General Elections being held today.

The Court ruled that President Lungu was wrong to retain ministers in their positions after the dissolution of parliament, and only himself and the vice president are constitutionally allowed to continue in their posts.

Lungu had argued that the new Republican Constitution allows ministers to stay in their offices until another government is formed after the elections in order to ensure a smooth transition of power.

The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) and the country's main opposition, the United Party for National Development (UPND) took the matter to court and added to their argument that ministers could use state resources and remuneration for campaigns ahead of the elections.

Leader of UPND Hakainde Hichilema said that the government's decision to allow the ministers to continue constituted "daylight robbery by an outgoing government from the people."

In a statement issued through his party the Patriotic Front (PF) Lungu said "We will respect the decision of the court though we had our own view and interpretation of the constitution."

Simbao and the other ministers have since accepted the Court's ruling.

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