via Madhuku blasts ‘ignorant’ MPs – NewsDay Zimbabwe June 26, 2015
Law professor Lovemore Madhuku yesterday said most MPs have no idea of their oversight roles resulting in partisan stances taken when dealing with important budgetary issues such as humanitarian needs of citizens including prisoners.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Madhuku told members of the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Human Rights and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs that MPs were failing to make noise and pressure the Executive to implement their recommendations, especially on budgetary issues.
The meeting was organised by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to interrogate operating challenges faced by prisons, explore how conditions there could be improved and to formulate recommendations to improve the services in prisons.
“MPs approve meagre budgets to prisons and after that they go saying the Executive did not allocate enough funds, and Parliament must be more alert to its functions and each MP must know at budgetary stage the priorities,” Madhuku said.
“The biggest problem with Parliament is its failure to prioritise because they believe the Executive has a prerogative to determine, and some MPs have no idea who they represent in Parliament as they think they represent their political parties instead of their constituencies.”
He said there was need for MPs to disseminate information of issues discussed by their respective Parliamentary committees, such as issues on how children were incarcerated in prisons with their mothers so that people made noise and pressured government to act.
“MPs must set time lines and have strategies that ensure motions and recommendations passed in Parliament if not implemented have implications such as contempt of Parliament.”
Prison Services Commissioner Wonder Chisora said prisons faced severe challenges including transporting prisoners to courts.
He said some of the solutions might be establishing courts within prison buildings.
“We have problems with providing a balanced diet to prisoners. Some people may say we have farms, but the problem is inputs and equipment. There is also no dietary budget allocation for children incarcerated with their mothers, as well as a budget for foreign prisoners — some from Ethiopia, DRC and Eritrea. We are still experiencing problems with pre and post-natal care for pregnant prisoners,” Chisora said.
He said the issue of congestion still haunted prison services resulting in shortages of blankets and prison garb, while mentally retarded prisoners lived amongst other normal prisoners instead of accessing services at mental health institutions.
Senator Chief Mtshane Lucas Khumalo said there were 17 318 prisoners in the country’s 43 prisons and 23 satellite prisons, with a total of 14 662 convicted prisoners, 2 866 un-convicted, 80 juveniles and 308 females which reflected that the prisons were overcrowded.
He said Chikurubi Maximum Prison experienced a myriad of problems such as going for 10 years without water.