Government is working on improving prison conditions and providing adequate resources to successfully rehabilitate and reintergrate offenders back into society.
The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) is facing shortages of water, food, bedding and educational materials.
There is also need to capacitate prisons’ health facilities to accommodate expecting inmates and ensure their smooth delivery.
Prison population is also a problem as the number of inmates has gone beyond the facilities’ carrying capacity.
Speaking during a tour of Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison complex this week, Minister of State for Harare Metropolitan Province Senator Oliver Chidawu said the private sector, civil society and faith based organisations should help ZPCS improve living conditions of officers and inmates.
“It is a collective responsibility as citizens, to commit resources and skills towards resolving some of the challenges faced by ZPCS.
“It is the President’s expectation to improve working conditions of both ZPCS inmates and staff so we have seen it fit to visit Chikurubi to see some of the challenges that need to be addressed,” he said.
Senator Chidawu commended ZPCS staff for doing their best to look after inmates under difficult conditions. The prison challenges are worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“These efforts have to a larger extent been affected by the current economic challenges our country is going through so we are committed to improving the welfare of members of civil service and Zimbabweans at large,” said Senator Chidawu.
Inmates and staff of Chikurubi prison also presented their grievances to the minister, who promised to assist.
One of the inmates complained of food shortages and overcrowding saying their diet was not balanced.
“We do not get a balanced diet and we are so many that even blankets and clothing become a challenge to all of us here,” said an inmate. A staff member asked Government to provide medical staff and equipment to the Chikurubi Prison Clinic.
He said pregnant inmates and wives of officers at Chikurubi are seeking medial help elsewhere.
“We have more trained professional midwives here but we do not have the resources to help pregnant mothers, so no one can deliver here. They seek services from other medical facilities,” said an officer.
This week Zimbabwe made history by being the first country in SADC to open a female open prison in Marondera.