The country’s courts are this morning set to resume operations after judicial officers called off their strike which began last Wednesday.
The officers, including judges and magistrates, went on the strike to force government to implement payment of housing allowances approved by Parliament in 2012, other benefits and arrears.
However, unlike previous industrial actions, the just-ended strike that lasted four days saw most officers proceeding with their normal business.
For instance, during the strike Justice Dunstan Mwaungulu of the Supreme Court of Appeal heard in his chambers an appeal case on an injunction that was obtained by some civil society organisations (CSOs) suspending George Chaponda as Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development.
In an interview yesterday, Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula confirmed the calling off of the strike, saying government has resolved the issue.
Mvula said government has given in to the officers’ demands and will start making the payments this month end. However, this does not apply to support staff.
He said: “We have just received communication from government this morning [yesterday]. It has resolved the issue so we are resuming work tomorrow [today]. It has given us the housing allowances which we were fighting for with effect from this month [February] and we will also get the arrears dating back to July 2016.”
Since 2012, the disgruntled officers have been negotiating with government, through the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development to implement the payments, and agreed that payment must start from July 2016 and not 2012.
However, according to Mvula, the ministry did not act on the said agreement as it was busy “playing hide and seek”, a development that forced the employees to down their tools.
In a separate interview, Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development spokesperson Alfred Kutengule also confirmed making the provision to staff.
“That’s true. There is that understanding between the Minister of Finance and the Chief Justice so there will be that provision. They will start receiving from this month as the housing allowances will be treated as part of their salaries,” he explained.