By CHARLES MUSONDA
OPERATIONS at subordinate courts countrywide were yesterday grounded because of public prosecutors’ indefinite strike over their benefits for the period they served under the Zambia Police Service before they were transferred to the National Prosecutions Authority (NPA) in 2016.
The prosecutors are demanding answers regarding who should pay them their benefits between ZP and NPA, an autonomous body established by the National Prosecution Authority Act Number 34 of 2010 to prosecute people charged with criminal offences by different investigative wings.
A senior prosecutor revealed in an exclusive interview yesterday that they have decided to go on strike after learning that the family of their former colleague late Nsama Nsama Chipyoka was only paid K13, 000 by the NPA as his benefits from 2016 until his death on December 23, 2020.
The late Mr. Nsama was shot dead in a fracas between the police and United Party for National Development (UPND) supporters that had escorted their leader Hakainde Hichilema to police headquarters for questioning relating to the manner in which he acquired farm 1924 in Kalomo.
A police Constable Fanwell Nyundu of Matero police camp, has already been committed to the High Court for trial on two counts of murder relating to Mr. Nsama’s death and that of UPND supporter Joseph Kaunda who was also shot dead in the same brawl.
According to the senior prosecutor who sought anonymity, when the administrator of Mr. Nsama’s estate questioned the NPA about the K13, 000 benefits package for the deceased, he was told to claim from Zambia Police Service for the rest of the years he served before all prosecutors were transferred to the authority.
He said the administrator then went to the police headquarters where he was told that prosecutors were no longer under the police and that the NPA was now fully responsible for their affairs.
“We want to know who should pay us our benefits and why the Zambia Police Service and NPA are throwing stones at each other. Previously a government minister had assured the nation in Parliament that NPA will pay everything even for leave days accrued under the police.
“This is why we have gone on an indefinite countrywide strike because we want answers,” the prosecutor said.
When contacted, Justice Minister Given Lubinda said he could not comment on the matter because he had not yet received a report from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that the public prosecutors had gone on strike.
“The matter has not been brought to my attention yet. I am waiting for the report from the DPP and I will not respond to piece meal,” Mr. Lubinda said.
An eerie silence engulfed the usually busy Lusaka Magistrates’ Court complex as a few prosecutors turned up to either prosecute or adjourn cases in about less than five courts out of the 12. Incarcerated accused persons endured a cold morning in the holding cells before they were driven back to various detention facilities as there were no prosecutors to call their cases.