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Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe President, grants controversial Independence Day amnesty to death row inmates



President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa

The President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has granted clemency to more than 4,000 prisoners in an Independence Day anniversary amnesty on Thursday, April 18, 2024.

This was contained in a clemency order which was announced on April 17 by President Mnangagwa.

The order, however, is due to take effect on April 18, 2024.

Among the beneficiaries of Mnangagwa’s amnesty were prisoners on death row, sparking serious controversy.

Zimbabwe marked 44 years of independence from white minority rule, which ended in 1980 after a bloody war.

The country’s name was later changed from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe.

What will benefit from the amnesty programme by Mnangagwa?

The presidential amnesty by Mnangagwa, the second in less than a year, benefits female, older and juvenile inmates.

It also benefitted the terminally ill and some who were originally sentenced to death.

Those on death row but had their sentences commuted to life terms in previous clemency orders or through court appeals are to be freed.

Their freedom, however, comes on condition that they have been in prison for at least 20 years, said Mnangagwa.

All female prisoners who had served at least a third of their sentence by Independence Day are being freed, as are juvenile inmates who have served the same period.

Prisoners age 60 and older who have served one tenth of their sentences will also be released.

Mnangagwa also pardoned the blind and others with disabilities who have served a third of their sentence.

The prisoners are being released in batches across the country under the amnesty granted by Mnangagwa.

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What will not benefit from the amnesty programme by Mnangagwa?

Meanwhile, those jailed for “specified” offences that include sexual offences and armed robbery will not benefit.

Others who will not benefit include those convicted for public violence and unlawful possession of firearms.

Also, those convicted for human trafficking and theft would not benefit from Mnangagwa’s amnesty, as well.

Those convicted for vandalism of electricity and telecommunications infrastructure are equally ruled out.

All death row prisoners who have been in jail for at least 10 years had their sentences commuted to life in prison.

How many prisoners have Zimbabwe ?

Zimbabwe has more than 60 inmates on death row.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many of those had their sentences commuted to life under Mnangagwa’s amnesty.

Zimbabwe is one of more than a dozen countries in Africa and more than 50 across the world that have the death penalty.

Meanwhile, the country’s last hanging was in 2005, as Mnangagwa said he supports abolishing the death penalty.

The move was backed by the cabinet in February and is now awaiting approval from Parliament.

Mnangagwa freed more than 4,000 prisoners in another clemency order last May.

He said the move was aimed at decongesting the nation’s overcrowded prisons, where conditions are usually harsh.

In the meantime, Zimbabwe had about 22,000 prisoners crammed into prisons with a capacity of 17,000.

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