Mr Sata said he set the prisoners free because the MMD government had respected animals more than human beings by throwing hundreds of poor Zambians into prisons on minor offences.
He announced the pardon in his address to the nation yesterday on the eve of the 47th independence anniversary.
“When I dissolved the ZAWA (Zambia Wildlife Authority) board last week, I said this institution and the MMD government seemed to have respected animals more than human beings. As a result, a lot of poor people were imprisoned over minor wildlife-related offences.
“As we celebrate 47 years of our independence, I have extended a gesture of goodwill to these people by pardoning a total of 673 prisoners, majority of whom were jailed over these minor wildlife-related cases,” Mr Sata said.
President Sata announced the dissolution of the ZAWA board of directors at State House last Thursday.
He said a number of people were languishing in prisons over more wildlife-related cases than any other offences.
“There are certain institutions which have more respect for animals than human beings. I have today dissolved the ZAWA board, and I have to look at it, to reconstitute it.
“If you look at our prisons there are more people related to ZAWA than any other offence. We cannot run a country like that. God gave us animals for us to admire, and not animals to turn against us,” Mr Sata said.
He said this shortly after swearing in newly appointed Ministry of Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Peter Kasanda and his Public Service Management Division counterpart Roland Msiska.
[Zambia Daily Mail]