By GRACE CHAILE LESOETSA
A medical doctor who was in 2018 sentenced to three years imprisonment for defamation of former President Edgar Lungu has sued the State contesting his dismissal from the Ministry of Health and demands terminal benefits amounting to about K1 million.
Dr Kwalela Kafunya, then stationed at Luampa Mission Hospital in Western Province was convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment on three counts of Defamation of the President contrary to section 59 Chapter 87, written threats to murder contrary to section 218 chapter 87 and giving false information to a public officer contrary to section 125 cap 87 of the laws of Zambia by the Mongu Magistrates Court.
Dr Kafunya in his statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court citing the Ministry of Health and Attorney General as defendants contended that laid down disciplinary procedures in accordance with the disciplinary code was not followed when dismissing him.
He stated that in a letter written by the Permanent Secretary, Public Service Management Division Ms Margaret Miyoba, he was told that an officer who is convicted by the courts of law is liable for dismissal with effect from the date of conviction in accordance with the disciplinary code and procedures for handling offences in the public service no.59 (b).
Dr Kafunya however contended that the Ministry of Health was negligent when it did not notify him in writing of his suspension and that he was denied a chance to be heard by the disciplinary committee.
“That at the time of the suspension, plaintiff was by law entitled to receive 50 percent of the basic salary until such a time when management was done with their investigations,” he said.
He said by law, the Ministry of Health was not allowed to institute any disciplinary action when the criminal case was still active before court, thus he was entitled to receive a basic salary until the case was disposed of when the administrative action was expected to start.
Dr Kafunya wants the court to award him punitive damages arising from discretion of duty on the part of the ministry’s PS and Ms Miyoba.
He is demanding damages arising from wrongful dismissal and a court order declaring the letter of dismissal dated April 26, 2021, null and void.
He should be paid terminal benefits as in leave days, settling in allowances and salary arrears in total of K917, 963.74 and interest at the commercial bank lending rate.