Zambia to withdraw RB’s benefits if he re-joins politics

Rupiah Banda
Rupiah Banda

GOVERNMENT will not hesitate to suspend disbursement of retirement benefits including construction of a house for Rupiah Banda if the former president re-joins active politics, Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications Yamfwa Mukanga has said.
Mr Banda, popularly known as RB, has declared intentions to be the MMD candidate in the forthcoming presidential election.
“The Benefits of Former Presidents Act, Chapter 15 is very clear on participation in active politics,” the minister said.
Mr Mukanga said Government held Mr Banda in high esteem and would want him to continue enjoying his pension and respect accorded to his persona.
“We don’t want the former president to join the political arena and be exposed to ridicule associated with campaigns.
“Already, we are looking into logistics of starting construction of his house,” he said.
“His comeback for now is speculation as far as Government is concerned but once he is adopted, statutory obligations will apply and we shall not hesitate to suspend his pensions since he will be an active player and not a retiree.”
Efforts to get a comment from Mr Banda proved futile as his deputy administrative assistant Kennedy Limwanya said he was in a meeting.
Excerpts of Chapter 15 of the constitution on benefits offered to Zambia’s former republican Presidents include a tax-free monthly pension at  80 percent of the incumbent President’s emoluments; a furnished executive house built or bought in Zambia by the State at a place of his choice; office accommodation, three drivers, three motor vehicles with free maintenance and fuel entitlement to the extent determined by Cabinet.
Other benefits include one personal secretary, three security persons, one administrative assistant at the level of deputy permanent secretary, three house employees, a diplomatic passport and medical insurance for the former president and his spouse.
They also include, in each year, one return air ticket for the former president and one for his spouse and funeral expenses on his death.
And Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) president George Chisanga says the association is ready to give PF advice on a legal road map for picking the party’s presidential candidate if formally requested .
Dr Scott on Monday said the PF would seek legal advice on how to interpret its constitution on selection of a presidential candidate.