President Rupiah Banda of Zambia is concerned with his bank balance and has embarked on a campaign that would ensure a comfortable pension as chances of his return to power grow slimmer.
According to current Zambian laws, a retired president is entitled to a gratuity after serving for at least three years in office.
And Mr Banda who was sworn in on November 2, 2008 is expected to clock three years in office on November 1, 2011.
However, with elections due before November and chances of being retained slim, President Rupiah Banda is in danger of missing out on a gratuity if the status quo remains unchanged.
Attempts by Mr Banda to temper with the laws to his favour have attracted condemnation from the Southern African country’s clergy.
Reports from Zambia have revealed that a Presidential Emoluments Amendment Bill presented to Parliament last week by Vice-President George Kunda seeks to do away with the three-year specified period of presidential service prescribed in the current Act.
Section 3 of the Presidential Emoluments Act 12 of 2005 states that: “…Provided that where a person who holds office of President ceases to hold office – (a) by reason of his death; or (b) when a new President assumes office after an election following the dissolution of Parliament before its full term; that person shall be deemed to have served as President for the specified period of three years for the purpose of this section.”
But reports say the proposed bill has overlooked the specified three year period by remaining silent on the matter.
Section 3 (2) of the proposed bill states that: “Where a person who holds office of President ceases to hold office (a) by reason of death; or (b) when a new President assumes office after an election following the dissolution of Parliament before its full term; that person shall be deemed to have served as President for the purpose of this section.”
Renowned clergyman Father Augustine Mwewa is quoted saying changing the law to allow Mr Banda qualify for gratuity is daylight robbery.
“These people are promoting plunder of national resources. In fact, that is daylight robbery and a manipulation of our laws.
“We cannot be changing laws each time we know that it favours this one or it does not favour that one,” Fr Mwewa is quoted saying.
Questioning if changing the law was meant to benefit Zambians, he asked:
“Does it benefit them in any way? I think these are the questions we should be asking ourselves.
“And this should be compared to what President Banda was worth over two years ago before he became President and what he is worth now.”
Observers have noted that seating Zambian presidents have a history of changing laws to punish their opponents when under threat.
Not too long ago, an attempt was made to include a clause in the constitution that would have made it mandatory for aspiring presidents to have educational degrees.
It was targeted at opposition leader Michael Sata.
Also former president Fredrick Chiluba introduced a citizenship clause in a bid to bar founding president Kenneth Kaunda from running for presidency after he was suspected of not being a “true” Zambian.