Prisons reeling under economic difficulties: ZPCS

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services (ZPCS) has defended the menial rations being fed to inmates in the country’s 46 prisons, saying the service was also reeling from economic difficulties.

This comes after the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs secretary Virginia Mabhiza recently told the parliamentary portfolio committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, that jails were inadequately resourced to supply the prison population adequately.

The ZPCS’s parent ministry had requested for $279 million in this year’s budget, but was allocated $108,9 million. From that vote, the prisons and correctional services department got a paltry $2,5 million against its requirement of $21 million.

Elizabeth Banda, ZPCS public relations officer, said the service has not been spared the financial stress afflicting all sectors of the economy.

“There is a dietary scale that has to be followed, a protein, vitamin, carbohydrate,” Banda said in a US Embassy-organised discussion with journalists. “Instead of meat, we might decide to substitute with matemba (Kapenta). We try to stick to this scale.”

Officials from ZPCS and Justice ministry revealed last year that malnutrition contributed to the death of at least 100 prisoners in Zimbabwe’s jails.

However, Banda scoffed at the reports saying the institution was only substituting elements of the balanced diet with affordable options to avert starvation. “Imi hamusi kudya nemuriwo kudzimba, nekuti wazodyiwa kujeri? (Are you not eating vegetables at your homes, why does it become an issue when inmates eat vegetables in jail?),” she asked.

“Covo tinogona kuirova kaviri, katatu kumba wani, (You can eat vegetables, two or three times at home), what more inmates?

“They are equally affected by the economy that is equally affecting us out here.”

Outside food, ZPCS has failed to take remand prisoners to court, owing to lack of fuel.

Meanwhile, the ZPCS has admitted that it sometimes receives homosexuality assault complaints from inmates.

Banda, however, said the cases were insignificant and strong systems were in place to address the problem.

“Basing on the ones that have been reporting, it is actually low,” she said.

“I would say around 3 or 4 percent comparing to the whole prison population, but we continually educate our inmates to avoid the scourge getting into our prisons.”

At least 18 800 prisoners are serving in the 46 prisons scattered across the country.

Banda said though it was difficult to investigate such cases from within, the organisational set-up empowers aggrieved inmates to seek redress.

“It is not something that we can say there is homosexuality that hee, it is being practiced in prison so and so because of the human rights issues that are attached to that. We cannot go further and actually open up the blankets,” she said.


Comments (3)

Ko Homosexuality inopinda papi pa food shortage dzimwe journalism ka

Grade2 - 30 June 2014

ko zvamaiti zve maSunctions yue kushaikwa kwe foreks? izvoiZvi moti kudii nhai?

makero munacho gwena - 1 July 2014

ko zvamaiti zve maSunctions yue kushaikwa kwe foreks? izvoiZvi moti kudii nhai?

makero munacho gwena - 1 July 2014

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