Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) has condemned in the strongest terms the continued release and pardoning of convicted Former Ministers from Zambian prisons. In a statement released to the media by the Executive Direct Goodwell Lungu, TIZ said that the Release of Hon Austin Liato Former Labour Minister yet again has not come as a surprise but has been received with great dismay.
” As far as TIZ is concerned, this is not a right trend, we are opposed to it and it must be stopped immediately as it is detrimental to the fight against corruption and undermines the doctrine of separation of powers which is the bedrock for promotion of good governance, ” read the statement
Below is the full statement
TIZ CONDEMS THE PARDONING OF CONVICTED FORMER MINISTER AUSTIN LIATO AS
IT UNDERMINES THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION
Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) condemns in the strongest terms the continued release and pardoning of convicted Former Ministers from Zambian prisons. The Release of Hon Austin Liato Former Labour Minister yet again has not come as a surprise but has been received with great dismay. We view the government tendency to pardon convicted former Ministers serving prison sentences on the pretext of being sick as a form of political manipulation and a travesty of justice.
TIZ is deeply disappointed that these former Ministers continue to serve only a short period of time in prison and are released on the so called medical grounds when there are so many prisoners in Zambia who have much more serious health conditions and yet have received a blind eye from authorities.
As far as TIZ is concerned, this is not a right trend, we are opposed to it and it must be stopped immediately as it is detrimental to the fight against corruption and undermines the doctrine of separation of powers which is the bedrock for promotion of good governance. The pardons being made amount to abuse of authority and the Executive must realize that it is eroding the very foundation of fairness and good order in our society. It is sending a message that criminality and corruption pays as long as one can render political support to the ruling party.
This is a dangerous path because “criminals” will take over Zambia and hold the state captive.
Going by recent events, one can conclude that there is selective justice that only favours political friends to the government and the rich, while the poor and wrongly accused persons endure maximum sentences and some die in prisons despite being sick. As such we feel this is immoral because we believe that these convicted leaders should serve their sentences as a deterrent mechanism to other leaders to desist from engaging in similar behavior but lead by example.
These recent trends have brought serious questions on whether the current Patriotic Front government value the fight again corruption because these events have greatly compromised the fight against corruption in the country and slowly hindering whistle blowers.
If unchecked, this is setting a very bad precedence for our current and future political leaders. This is because they will be using this precedence to engage in criminal activities by finding ways of securing pardons from Presidents and Authorities at the beginning of serving their prison terms.
We therefore appeal to government and all law enforcers to exercise great caution and put national interest instead of selectively applying the law to prop up sectarian political interests. It is unfair and unwarranted to take such a route if we have to hold society accountable for their actions especially convicted political leaders.