ON May 27, 2021 the organisation received good news from the Correctional Facilities boss Dr. Chileshe Kasela disclosing that President Edgar Lungu has signed into law some two Constitutional provisions allowing convicts to go on a two-week break to visit their families.
Another provision would allow convicts serving life imprisonment to be released on a special licence away from a pardon.
How the process will be administered
Whenever an opportunity unveils itself be it during commemorations of pivotal events like Africa Freedom Day, Independence Day and International Heroes Day, an opportunity opens up for some convicts to be pardoned using the prerogative of mercy from the President.
Besides at any event of the year whenever it pleases the President, he can exercise His Prerogative powers bestowed on him to pardon anyone.
The Zambia Correctional Facilities Service makes a recommendation to the President based on the conduct and behaviour of the inmates. If a convict is remorseful – showing or manifesting a deep sense of regret and has transformed into a better person the institution can identify such people and put them on the list of candidates who may qualify for the Presidential gesture.
There could be other extenuating factors and circumstances unveiled to the Correctional Services. Among known ones include the deterioration of health and in some cases availability of evidence indicating that the said convict could have been incriminated unjustly.
Other convicts may have some outstanding attributes, skills and knowledge that could be of great benefits for the ordinary citizens and confining them in Correctional facilities could be understood to be deprivation of others.
What are constitutional provisions/acts that the President can sign into law?
Although no single person is above the law, the President is the main custodian of the law. Sitting at the helm of the country, he has a rare privilege of assenting to any bill that is fully finalised before Parliament – Having passed all stages.
Once the President append his signature on a bill from Parliament which is a legislative body, His signing signals that the bill becomes law.
In addition, every pronouncement and directive having a Presidential intonation culminate into law. No wonder the President is always expected to be liberal and sober minded because anything he pronounces becomes law. It is for this reason that the Head of State surrounds himself with wise, insightful and prudent people.
Thirdly the Constitution contain some porousness similar to air vents in a structure which gives him an allowance to perform his duties and exercise his Presidential powers. Within the inscribed and enshrined law, there are some clauses and articles that are deliberately left hanging which provides some openings for the President to assent to.
For instance the Constitution in article number 8 and 9 has National Values and Principles which are now embedded. It is up to the President to seek ways and means of actualising National Values by coming up with some policy directives meant to attain the enshrined articles.
Benefits of the new signed provisions
With the two Constitutional provisions cited MPNVP is thrilled and eagerly look forward to the attainment of the following once the Acts are fully implemented;
* Eeasy integration of former inmates: All along it has been difficult for society accepting a former inmate into communities after they are released. Many are disenfranchised, demonised, isolated, abandoned and stigmatised.
With the new provision, it will be possible seeing convicts mingling with their family members once in a while. It will help in blending them once again with their family members.
* Dencongesting of correctional facilities: The Correctional Facilities Services are grappling with overpopulation of inmates due to lack of adequate infrastructure. Currently, we have roughly about 22, 000 inmates against the facilities that can accommodate 12, 000 inmates. That is minus those remanded awaiting disposal of their cases.
President Lungu is poised to be the first Head of State since 1964 to manage decongesting Correctional Facilities! He is likely to break the record. Due to his desire to see application of National Values and Principles, we are likely to see few people in Correctional facilities.
* Upholding of human rights: Zambia is a signatory to the International Human Rights Treaty which indicates that all human beings deserve fair and equal treatment since we are all equal not only before the law but in the sight of God.
Among our enshrined National Values and Principles include Social Justice, Equity, Non Discrimination, Fairness, Dignity and Constitutionalism. President Lungu is resolved in leaving behind a legacy of actualising National Values and Principles.
These cited benefits are likely to be yielded due to the signing of the Acts – Constitutional provisions. MPNVP would therefore wish to hail President Lungu for manifesting Ubuntu which is humanity in our modern language.
Kudos ba kateka from MPNVP, an organisation championed by the Chief Executive Officer who once tested how it feels to be incarcerated.
We wish you well in your pursuit for human dignity. In Zambia it is all about politics. We have read some negative comments and views from some quarters of our society whose impression is that the President is taking such measures for political mileage realising that we are heading towards the general elections.