The seventeen State Advocates fired by the Patriotic Front (PF) government have sued the State for wrongful dismissal and are demanding among other things, damages for breach of contract of employment stating that they were not given a chance to be heard as required by the Public Service Management Division disciplinary code of conduct.
The former State lawyers were unilaterally dismissed last year for demanding Non Private Practice Allowance after it was removed from their conditions of service following government’s harmonization of salaries.
The lawyers have stated in their statement of claim that they were dismissed from employment for asking government to reinstate their Non Private Practicing Allowance which was unilaterally removed without considering the conditions that came with their contracts.
The claim they were charged for allegedly conducting a sit-in without following the basic principles governing the disciplinary code and procedure.
They said that after the Non-Private Practicing Allowance, they sought the intervention of the Permanent Secretary administration at the Ministry of Justice but their complaints were ignored.
The former State advocates who have sued government through the Attorney General include Conrad Sichanden who was acting counsel, Tukuza Tembo Mulenga, acting principle legal officer, Maipepi Mulele Comba, senior State advocate, Kabanda Leah Lopa Chilekwa, counsel, Mutinta Natala Siansima, acting principle State advocate, Belinda Lukaki Maspelo, assistant senior State advocate, Kaluba Gloria Kaulung’ombe, acting senior parliamentary counsel and Bwalya Chilufya, State advocate.
Other are Mwendabai Mwalusi, State advocate, Stanley Kaluba Nkandu, State advocate, Faith Moono Wamundila, assistant administrator general official receiver, Mwaka Ndhlovu, assistant senior State advocate, Peggy M Hlazo, assistant State advocate, Cassandra Musonda Chikanika, assistant senior State advocate, Frank Mupezeni Sikazwe, State advocate, Mutale M Marabesa, assistant senior State advocate and Bubala Chibbonta, parliamentary counsel.
“On or about the 27th day of November, 2013, government authored and delivered two letters dated 27th day of November, 2013 to each plaintiff. The first letter advised the plaintiff that their exculpatory letters had been submitted to the Ministerial Disciplinary Division who in turn escalated the same to the Public Service Management Division for further consideration. The contents of the second letter were to the effect that the Public Service Commission acting and on behalf of His Excellence, the President of the Republic of Zambia had dismissed the plaintiffs,” reads party of the statement of claim.
The former government lawyers complained that the harmonization of the salaries at the Ministry of Justice resulted in the unilateral removal of the Non Private Practicing Allowance which effectively reduced their entitlements.
They stated that the harmonization of salaries was effected in a discriminatory manner and are subsequently demanding damages for the unlawful termination of employment and the payment of Non-Private Practicing Allowance in arrears.
The former State advocates said after they were fired, they were not given the opportunity to appeal and that the letters of dismissal made no reference to the right for the employees appeal against the government’s action.
They argued that the decision by government to fire them was done in contumelious disregard of the rules of natural justice.
The former State advocates are claiming payment of various allowances owed to them apart from exemplary damages for suffering embarrassment, mental anguish, distress, inconvenience, and torture on account of abrupt termination of their contracts.
The former government lawyers are being represented by Lawyers Eric Silwamba, Jalasi and Linyama Legal practitioners.
Last year, government dismissed 17 State advocates for allegedly engaging in what it described as an illegal industrial action.