STATEMENT ON THE PARDON OF FORMER MINISTERS STEPHEN MASUMBA AND GEORGE MPOMBO
The Alliance for Community Action’s Ask Project has some questions to put to the Acting President, Dr Guy Scott and the Prison Service on the parole from their jail sentences granted by the Acting President to former Ministers Stephen Masumba and George Mpombo.
It is our considered view that, like all constitutional powers accorded to constitutional offices, the Prerogative of Mercy that is provided for in Article 59 of the Republican Constitution is meant to be exercised judicially, accountably and in the best interest of the larger nation.
The Ask Project is concerned that these requirements may not have been met in the release of the two former ministers.
It in this light that the Ask Project , whose aim is ensure that duty bearers explain and justify to citizens all decisions taken on their behalf by various offices , respectfully requests the Acting President and the Prison Service to answer a few questions for the public as follows:
- What criteria was employed to select Mr Masumba and Mr Mpombo as deserving of pardon resulting in their release from prison?
- With both former Ministers in question having been imprisoned for serious crimes including fraud, theft by public servant, forgery and uttering a false document, what is it that made them attract pardon ahead of other inmates who have been in prison longer for similar offences?
- How did the parole of these two high profile individuals in prison for the serious offences set out above, crimes that should be deterred especially by holders of public office, advance the national good?
- Could the Prerogative of Mercy as exercised on Christmas Day have been advanced to more deserving inmates- such as mothers in prison for stealing food, juveniles with their lives ahead of them or mothers who are behind bars with their young children?
- Is a report of the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy provided for in Article 60 of the Republican Constitution available for public scrutiny to aid understanding of the reasoning behind the two pardons?
- Further, could the procedure taken to reach the decision to pardon these Ministers be shared with the concerned public?
- Could the general processes that identify convicts for pardon be shared with the public?
- Was the Acting President influenced in any way by the status of the two former ministers in reaching his decision on who to pardon?
- Can the fact that two former ministers were both pardoned in not be seen as an unfortunate case of favouritism for people of high social status
- And finally would the Acting President and the Prisons Commission agree with the Ask Project that the provisions overseeing the Prerogative of Mercy need to be reviewed in order to ensure transparent and accountable application that identifies the most deserving persons for pardon and prevents the abuse of the power by the free presidential hand now envisaged in Articles 59 and 60 of the constitution?
The Ask Project of the Alliance for Community Action will be most grateful to receive clarity on the questions above from the Honourable Acting President as well as the Commissioner of the Prison Service. We, in our pursuit of the citizen right to accountability, anticipate the response from these two important offices.
BOARD MEMBER ALLIANCE FOR COMMUNITY ACTION
TECHNICAL ADVISER – Ask Project