Prominent Media Analyst Kasebamashila asks why Zambians are quiet on Afumba Mombotwa’s ‘cancelled’ presidential pardon fiasco

22 October 2020
L-R Kasebamashila Kaseba, Afumba Mombotwa, Dickson Jere (CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE)


LUSAKA – While commenting on a Zambian lawyer’s explanation of the difference between a presidential pardon and parole, prominent Zambian Media commentator Kasebamashila Kaseba has wondered why many Zambians, particularly the legal fraternity, have remained mute on a glaring error that happened last year in which a Minister of Home Affairs reportedly cancelled and reversed a presidential pardon of Barotseland campaigner, Afumba Mombotwa, several hours after the political prisoner was publicly and formally announced to have been pardoned by the Republican President.

To this day, Mr Afumba Mombotwa's name is still listed on President Edgar Lungu's verified Facebook profile as having been pardoned unconditionally by the President from his 15-year prison sentence, while he remains in jail for treason under the laws of Zambia.

And Kasebamashila has wondered why lawyers like Dickson Jere have decided to remain mute and not explain whether a presidential pardon could be reversed or cancelled by a minister after it had already been pronounced.

In explaining the difference between a presidential pardon and parole, lawyer Dickson Jere stated that once pardoned under the president’s prerogative of mercy, the pardoned individual is considered never to have committed the crime as long as the pardon was unconditional.

However, Mr Jere explained that parole was different in that it was done by the Parole Board and could be reversed if the conditions of release were violated.

But Mr Kasebamashila has wondered why the Zambian legal fraternity has remained quiet on the apparent legal confusion that surrounded the announced pardon and consequent reversal of Afumba’s pardon in 2019.

“In spite of the above (Dickson Jere’s explanation on the difference between pardon and parole), I am reminded of Minister Kampyongo mixing the two by cancelling or reversing a presidential pardon, not parole, of one Barotseland activist Afumba Mombotwa publicly released at the pleasure of the president without consulting the minister or needing his advice,” remarked Kasebamashila in response to the Lusaka based lawyer's Facebook posting on the subject, further asking why the legal fraternity has been silent on this matter of violation of Mombotwa's rights.

“Further, as above, there is no constitutional provision for reversal or cancellation of a pardon, the nation and legal fraternity has been silent on this matter of violation of Mombotwa's rights. In fact, where there is a mistake one should even benefit of (from) the mistake.” continued Mr Kasebamashila.

Meanwhile, a human rights officer at United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has stated that Mr Afumba’s case was a clear violation of his rights and advised that Mr Afumba or his agents must seek judicial review of his case.

Mr Alfred Zulu, while commenting on the same Facebook note said, “Kasebamashila Kaseba - you are absolutely correct. Once a presidential pardon has been granted it cannot be reversed. It is irreversible. The only way to vary this misnomer (mistake by the president) is by an act of parliament. The granting of a presidential absolute pardon is akin to bestowing dignity and human rights on an individual or ex-prisoner. Presidential absolute pardon is a permanent and irrevocable act of mercy. Only God can dissolve it (if God ever existed). Akafumba [Afumba] Mambotwa [Mombotwa] must or his agents must commence judicial proceedings in the Constitutional Court to reclaim these rights.”

The current debate on pardon and parole seems to have been provoked by the recent release of a prominent Zambian female prisoner who was serving a life sentence for the murder of another prominent female Monica Chabwela Phiri years back after the former accused the latter of interfering in her marriage.

However, the debate seems to have solidified the controversial but popular view that Barotse people are often treated to different legal standards in Zambia as the abuse of their rights by the state or its agents are often ignored by many Zambians as though they were second class Zambians.

The notion stems from the fact that while the Zambian public stands vocal on apparent injustices committed against fellow Zambians, they conspicuously go very quiet when similar or worse injustices are meted out by the state on peaceful Barotseland campaigners, which leaves Barotse people to often suffer unabated state instigated injustices and repression.

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