Home » Governance » ’Let’s Empower Inmates Through Land’

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday said the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services should be given more land to ensure prisoners produce their own food.

He said correctional facilities in the country had a capacity to hold 17 000 inmates, but were being overstretched to contain over 20 000 inmates.

“I have no doubt that if we give the ZPCS more land, we would have assisted them. There are a lot of prisoners who are doing nothing in prisons and they should be able to work in these farms so that they can produce food for themselves,” he said.

He was speaking at the handover ceremony of a maize project at a field day at Bindura Prison Farm, popularly known as Chawagona Hapana.

The project was a pilot initiative funded by the National Aids Council to supplement nutritional requirements for prisoners as a strategy to empower them in response against HIV and Aids.

VP Mnangagwa, who is also the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, said there was debate in Parliament with some legislators arguing that inmates were not getting adequate food.

He said ZPCS Commissioner-General Paradzai Zimondi every week would approach the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabhiza, seeking cash to buy food for the inmates.

“As you may all be aware, Zimbabwe remains saddled with a heavy burden of HIV and AIDS that has reversed the gains of our development strides over the years. As such, this calls for us to remain vigilant as we tackle this pandemic in pursuit of zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS deaths and zero stigma and discrimination. I believe that such efforts can be complemented with balance nutritional support for the inmates in our prisons,” VP Mnangagwa said.

He said the number of people accessing antiretroviral therapy had tremendously risen, infusing new hope for a longer and better quality of life for the people.

He said these achievements had been realised on the strength of a solid national response backed by overwhelming political will that saw the introduction of an AIDS levy and enabling institutional arrangements.

“While we celebrate these achievements, we have to remain on our guard and ensure that our earned international reputation continues to be safe guarded. We therefore have to ensure that HIV services and AIDS are available to all people who need them, including those in prisons.

“Prisoners, despite being contained, also face a higher risk of HIV and AIDS as other key population sectors and subgroups. A recent study by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare indicated that HIV prevalence was higher among prisoners compared to the general population. The response to HIV and AIDS should therefore always prioritise population sub groups such as inmates and ensure that they access needed services,” VP Mnangagwa said.

He said he was pleased to note that these services were now available in prisons, and the inmates could easily access HIV counselling and testing, education and ARV drugs.

NAC chief executive officer Dr Tapiwa Magure, said the project was part of a $1.1 million funding they had provided for the 2015-16 farming season.

“We have also made a further $6 300 available for a goat project in Gwanda where 65 goats are being procured and reared by the inmates for both milk and meat. Apart from this broad initiative, we have also provided for the production of traditional vegetables whose nutritional value is known to be high and effective in addressing Aids complications,” he said.

The ceremony was attended by Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa, Environment Water and Climate Minister Saviour Kasukuwere and the Minister of State for Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs Aocate Martin Dinha, among other senior Government and Zanu-PF officials.

Source : The Herald