Food security across the country’s prisons and correctional facilities is stable and no inmate will starve, the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) has said.
Speaking during a tour of the ZPCS stand at the Harare Agricultural Show yesterday, Commissioner-General Paradzai Zimondi said prisoners’ projects had the capacity to sustain inmates when fully supported.“We have the capacity to produce food for our inmates, we have 23 farms nationwide and we have the labour and expertise to maximise the land at our disposal,” he said.
“Our only problem is that we do not have the equipment to maximise our readily available labour.
“We could be producing excess food stocks for our inmates but the lack of inputs like fertilisers, grain and working tools is a setback; that is why we continue relying on taxpayers’ money.”
He said inmates contributed to the country’s economic blueprint, Zim-Asset, by prioritising innovation through sewing, mechanical engineering, upholstery, book binding and horticulture.
Comm-Gen Zimondi said prisons across the country had enough basic food.
“No one will starve in our prisons because as it is, we have the basics particularly sadza as the main staple food, cooking oil, salt and a few cooking ingredients are what we run short of,” he said.
He said: “We may not follow the standard diet and nutrition in the food that we serve to our inmates but what matters most is that the food is actually there and we can only push for the provision of better and more appealing nutrition for our inmates.”
Comm-Gen Zimondi hailed the Presidential amnesty for decongesting the country’s prisons.
“Although the issue of overpopulation remains a major concern in our prisons nationwide, with the Presidential amnesty earlier this year we managed to decongest our facilities,” he said.
“Aggregates are showing that we are slightly above the holding capacity of 17 000 and we are a little overpopulated but the numbers are still manageable.” He said inmate transfers to other provinces across the country were some of the initiatives adopted to manage cases of overpopulation at prison institutions.
Comm-Gen Zimondi said prisons faced challenges with habitual offenders. “Since the Presidential amnesty already 106 prisoners who were saved by the amnesty are back behind bars for different crimes,” he said.
“Barely three months after being saved, some prisoners are already back behind bars for different reasons. Some are failing to adapt to the outside life while others do not have relatives out there hence the prison is the only place they can call home.”
ZPCS statistics show that there are a total of 17 477 inmates across the country, a decrease from the 19 267 recorded during the same period last year while the cost of each inmate’s upkeep currently stands at $3,05 per day.
Mashonaland Central, Mash West, Midlands and Bulawayo are some of the provinces with under- populated prisons. herald