Govt withholds retirees’ benefits

GOVERNMENT has withheld the more K7 million that was supposed to be remitted to Lusaka lawyer Nelly Mutti’s firm Lukona Chambers for onward payment of retirees until her differences with the beneficiaries are resolved.

On Friday last week, the Solicitor General Abraham Mwansa ruled that the money be channeled through Lukona Chambers but this prompted the Voluntary Separatees Association of Zambia (VSAZ) executive members who have engaged Malipenga and Company to seek audience to reverse the decision.

VSAZ is arguing that Lukona Chambers should not deduct legal fees because they were not part of the 8 percent underpayment matter.

VSAZ General Secretary Syachoke Simemeza said that his association did not want Lukona Chambers to receive the underpayment benefits because his members have sued the law firm

“The Attorney General, Solicitor General and the permanent secretary at the ministry of Justice had allowed the said funds to be disbursed to Lukona Chambers with an entitlement of 12 percent of the amount to her as legal fees. This is because they did not know that our association had sued Nelly Mutti over the same legal charges that she was claiming,” Mr. Simemeza said.

He said there was never any agreement that Lukona Chambers deducts 12 per cent legal fees.

“The association only came to realise the issue after change of administration in 2014. Under normal circumstances, Lukona Chambers was supposed to give the association the legal bill as she was the one handling the issue in the courts, but she did not and opted to take advantage of the previous administration to claim 12 percent of the total amount.

There was no such a transaction between Lukona Chambers and the association and the Attorney General was told.

He explained that the initial reversal granted Malipenga and company, the right, to get the money on their behalf and that there would have been no legal fees attached to the total amount as government was the one that should have paid the legal bills and not his association.

However, this reversal has taken a new twist as none of the lawyers will receive the money on behalf of VSAZ until further determination of the issue.

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