The women movements in Zambia have condemned president Edgar Lungu for freeing from prison a convicted girl child defiler Clifford Dimba.
On Thursday, July 16th 2015, president Edgar Lungu pardoned a convicted girl child defiler, Clifford Dimba known as general Kanene, who was serving an 18-year-jail sentence. General Kanene was convicted by a competent court of law that he molested and abused a girl child below the age of 16.
The women movement through it’s network the Non Governmental Organizations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) says ‘clearly, president Lungu is not providing inspiration to the nation in this regard and more specifically to the welfare of the girl child in Zambia.’
NGOCC board Secretary Patricia Mubanga said ‘we feel let down by this manoeuvre by the head of state to throw the fight against gender based violence (GBV) in disarray.
‘This is more heart-breaking given the level of violations being reported on a daily basis in Zambia. We specifically are worried that increased cases of child defilement and child abuse are now being politicized in the way our leadership has handled the Kanene defilement prosecution. It is our considered view that the recent presidential pardons of criminals for political expedience by the PF government is now threatening the safety of this country especially the vulnerable girl children. ‘
Mubanga said the ‘decision by the president to pardon a convicted child defiler, is not only an insult to the women of Zambia, but a serious draw back in the fight against child defilement and GBV.
The NGOCC lawyer said ‘What the president is saying in his pardon is that as long as anyone is in good books with the [PF] party, they can abuse and defile children and they will not face the wrath of the law. It is unfortunate that at the time Zambia needs leadership in the fight against defilement the head of state is in the forefront abetting and encouraging people to abuse girl children. ‘
The NGOCC wondered what criteria Lungu used to free Kanene when there are so many prisoners who may have also repented.
Mubanga sais while the NGOCC appreciates that ‘Kanene may have reformed and is now championing the fight against GBV, the reality is, and so have many other prisoners who have committed various crimes who will serve their full sentence .’
Madam Mubanga said ‘we call upon president Lungu to seriously introspect and reflect on his decision to release a convicted defiler. President Lungu is seriously undermining the judicial system by selectively releasing convicts who he has a personal interest in.
‘While the law gives the president power to pardon convicts, we sincerely believe that president Lungu is abusing his power, for political expedience.
‘Surely what is so special with general Kanene to be released after committing such a heinous crime against a girl child? Did president Lungu think about the victim when he decided to pardon general Kanene?’ Mubanga asked.
Mubanga said ‘the girl child that was defiled by Mr Dimba will not receive any justice now that the president has decided to pardon him.’
She complained that that ‘as long as president Lungu remains the head of state, the fight against GBV will remain a pipe dream. ‘We challenge all the women in the patriotic front (PF) government to voice against this injustice against the girl child. If president Lungu and the PF want the support of the women, this decision must be reversed immediately. ‘
‘It is for this reason that the women’s movement continues to advocate for a new people driven republican constitution that will regulate the powers of the president. The current constitution gives too much power to the president which is not good for the country,’ Mubanga explained.
Mubanga vowed that NGOCC will remain consistent in demanding for the enactment of the new constitution through a national referendum. ‘We primarily demand for the enactment of the new constitution through a national referendum because an expanded bill of right will enhance and advance the rights and status of women and children,’ she asserted.
Mubanga said the only solution to the many problems that the country is facing is to enact the new constitution before 2016 tripartite elections. ‘Otherwise, individuals will continue to abuse the presidential office. ‘
As an organization we will be left with no option but to go to the public and explain what kind of danger Edgar Lungu is to the women and girl children of this country, the NGOCC board secretary said.