SENIOR STAFF WRITER
CABINET yesterday agreed to pardon all prisoners who have served at least a third of their sentences, except for those convicted of serious crimes like murder and rape, in an effort to decongest prisons in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a post-Cabinet media briefing last night in the capital, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said ministers had approved a proposal by Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to grant a general amnesty.
By last night it was not clear how many inmates would benefit from the amnesty.
“The proposed general amnesty is targeted at all prisoners who have served at least one third of their sentences, save for those convicted of specified offences such as murder, treason, rape or any sexual offence, carjacking, robbery, stock theft, and public violence,” Mutsvangwa said.
“There shall be full remission of sentence to be granted to all prisoners who would have served life imprisonment for at least 15 years commutation.”
She said the amnesty would decongest “the prison institution whose population currently stands at 20 407 against the prison’s holding capacity of 17 000”.
“The overpopulation already poses a health hazard, especially considering the Covid-19 pandemic and the recommended measures to curtail the spread of the disease,” she said.
Mutsvangwa said Cabinet had also agreed that all sporting activities would now resume and observe standard operating procedures.
“Restaurants are now allowed to open for sit-ins at 50 percent capacity, under strict adherence to Covid-19 guidelines. Those found breaking the restrictions will be closed immediately,” she added.
On housing, Cabinet was told that 21 852 households were facing displacement at a national level.
“Harare Metropolitan Province tops the list at 15 713 households, followed by Mashonaland East 1 947, Manicaland 1 683, Mashonaland Central 622, Masvingo 575, Bulawayo 549, Matabeleland South 532, Matabeleland North and Midlands at 105 each, and Mashonaland West 21.
“The provision of relief to distressed households, and identification of relocation areas, will continue across all the provinces in order for corrective action to be taken.
“The production of appropriate housing plans and architectural designs which promote settlement densification through high-rise structures is a pre-requisite for the provision of housing to families faced with relocation. In this regard, Cabinet was informed that the plans and designs have now been produced through collaboration between the ministries of National Housing and Social Amenities; and Local Government and Public Works.
“They are mainly the H-type with two and three-bedroomed units, and target low income earners. Modifications can also be availed for middle income earners. Building brigades will be revived,” Mutsvangwa said.
“The designs will accommodate public facilities at the ground floor, and include Wifi centres, a community hall with ablutions, an amusement area, a play centre, and a pre-school. Other amenities will entail shops, a pharmacy, a surgery, and a hair salon. Liquor outlets and activities that require bulk storage and haulage are excluded. Resources will be mobilised for the completion of all housing projects.”