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National Assembly Hansard 09 May 2023 Vol 49 No. 36
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 9th May, 2023
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. SPEAKER
VISITORS IN THE SPEAKER’S GALLERY
THE HON. SPEAKER: I would like to inform Hon. Members that I have to recognise the presence in the Speaker’s Gallery of the Namibian delegation being headed by Hon. Paula Cooper. I thank you.
NON-ADVERSE REPORTS RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that I have received a Non-Adverse Report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on Statutory Instruments 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44 and 45 gazetted in March, 2023 and Statutory Instruments 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51 52, 53, 54 and 55 gazetted in April, 2023.
ADVERSE REPORT RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE
THE HON. SPEAKER: I also have to inform the House that I have received an Adverse Report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill [H. B. 10, 2022].
HON. T. MLISWA: Point of national interest Mr. Speaker Sir. A very good afternoon to you, Sir. It has been a long time, but on a more important issue, it is quite disturbing…
THE HON. SPEAKER: I thought missing me was also important Hon. Mliswa.
HON. T. MLISWA: Mr. Speaker Sir, the current parallel market rate has gone up to 3000 and we are also part of the people who have been affected. We are paid at least RTGS700 000. If you divide that, it is a mere US$250. Members of Parliament have got families just like the civil servants, like anybody else and they are struggling to send their children to school as we speak. We unfortunately do not have any benefits on our contracts pertaining to the children who go to school.
Mr. Speaker Sir, as you would appreciate, most of the things we have done, we do out of national interest but it is unfortunate when national interest now requires you to actually dig deep into your thin pocket. The Hon. Members here, most of them you probably met when you chaired the Appeals Committee of ZANU PF when they were basically putting in their pleas for re-runs did not really loose but one of the reasons that I would have put forward if I was contesting in a ZANU PF election to the Chairman of the Appeal’s Committee is that I lost because of lack of resources. They have used their own resources to build the communities, to build the country.
We passed a budget here and what is unfortunate is that when we pass the budget and there is something which concerns Parliament and is not acted upon, from a national perspective, what do they say about other budgets that we pass here? This House approves this budget on motor vehicles; $50 000, $80 000. The Minister of Finance then says, yes, I can give you….
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, you have forgotten that you have one minute – [AN HON. MEMBER: Iyi nyaya yakakosha.] – Hon. Member, I did not call you and you did not apply to be my deputy. According to the Standing Rules, can you wind up your statement.
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. With the powers vested in you, according to Standing Order Number 215 and you being the Chairperson of the Welfare Committee of the Pressure Group, may I indulge you to give me a bit more time because the issues I am talking about concern most Members…
THE HON. SPEAKER: No, wind up. State exactly what you want done.
HON. T. MLISWA: Whatever we have done from a legal point of view has not been achieved. One example is the motor vehicle; we have been given a duty-free certificate for $60 000. There was some change from $80 000, which is $30 000, which the Minister of Finance himself did…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, that is an interest for the Parliament and it is an administrative issue. I thought you started very well on the issue of inflation.
HON. T. MLISWA: What I was getting to Mr. Speaker Sir was - I am citing Parliament as an example of budgets which have been approved and this also, we talk about the various portfolios which have approved some budgets. Parliament was just an example but there are so many portfolios outside Parliament where we have approved the budgets here and there has been no achievement whatsoever. My point from a national interest point of view, what is the point of us burning the midnight candle, passing budgets and yet there is no implementation?
Inflation has gone up, there is no review; there is no supplementary budget coming. With the inflation going up at this rate, any country would have a supplementary budget. So my national…
THE HON. SPEAKER: What is your appeal?
HON. T. MLISWA: May the Minister, with immediate effect, come with a supplementary budget as a result of the inflation which has gone up and the rate which has gone up to $3 000 on the parallel market? That requires a supplementary budget so that he can achieve what we have approved here. For example, getting our $30 000 cars and civil servants also getting what belongs to them. There is no way – he must be here to tell us what he is doing to address the inflation which has gone up and the rate which has gone up to $3 000. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: There are two issues that Hon. Mliswa raised. One is a call for a supplementary budget. The other is an appeal to find out what the Minister of Finance is doing in order to arrest inflation. So which is which now? - [HON. MEMBERS: Both] – It cannot be both. Which is your priority issue. [HON. BITI: High rate is a bi-product of inflation.] –
HON. T. MLISWA: Hon. Biti said it so well, I cannot say better than that.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Inflation is the key issue that you would want the Hon. Minister to address. Alright, the issue will be presented to the Hon. Minister of Finance.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I have got a point of national interest which borders on a High Court Order that was delivered by Hon. Justice Chitapi. The applicant was the vendors, Mr. Godfrey Mhiwa and 105 others. The respondents were Chegutu Municipality and the police but the import of the judgement…
THE HON. SPEAKER: What is your point of national interest?
HON. NDUNA: The import of this judgement is national. It does not only speak to the respondents and the applicant. I therefore, armed with this judgement of 2019, urge the local authorities that this becomes a locus classicus case. It becomes a test case and this judgement stays and applies to all local authorities to shy away from impounding wares of vendors; lest they will fall foul of the law which is advanced or which is embolden by this judgement. Those will be my submissions. I know for a very fact that a local authority has now fallen foul of the law and they have to compensate 105 vendors. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you very much, I am still speaking, why are you standing up?
Hon. Members having sung happy birthday.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Our Standing Orders say you do not
Hon. G. Banda being the one who led the singing, was asked to
leave the House.
THE HON. SPEAKER: You made your observations Hon. Nduna. I suggest you ask a question tomorrow directed to the Minister of Local Government on the issue.
HON. MARKHAM: Thank you Hon. Speaker. My point of national interest is to do with the global settlement deed. As we heard in the pre-budget meeting, the Minister of Finance told us that by a referendum the farmers had agreed to the package. However, last week the farmers had a non-binding poll and only 48% voted for the motion, of which of the total farmers less than half voted. My point is that it is clear that the Minister is…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Can you clarify first, where was the voting?
HON. MARKHAM: It was online poll pertaining to the offer we had by farmers who represented commercial farmers. This is for the compensation which the Minister of Finance told us it had already been done when it had not. The farmers have rejected it. What I want to clarify is the farmers rejected it because the Minister is offering bonds starting in four years’ time. There is no security to the bonds for us as farmers can see. That is the major issue. It is not a confrontational issue. The issue is the bonds.
The second issue is that I am concerned that the commercial farmers are held on one side with compensation and it was with the Minister of Agriculture’s admission, 650 indigenous farmers who also lost their land. They were offered 99-year leases and to our knowledge none have been given. I am talking of the indigenous commercial farmers. The indigenous commercial farmers have been offered no compensation package. My issue goes to Statutory Instrument 62 of 2021. The issue with that Mr. Speaker is, the indigenous farmer and the BIPA farmers were offered their farms back but none have been given. BIPA farmers are the international protected farmers.
The problem is that we need a unified approach and bonds do not work; it will not be accepted by the farmers. My biggest concern is the indigenous farmers have not even been debated in this House under any circumstance. With your indulgence, I would like the Minister to clarify where we stand on all farmers? I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: We will refer your request to the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development to clarify issues accordingly.
HON. CHIBAYA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My point of national interest is to do with the issue of gold mafia published by Al Jazeera which is a serious issue to Zimbabwean citizens. I therefore request the Minister of Justice, legal and Parliamentary Affairs who is the leader of Government business to come with a ministerial statement on Government position. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Your request has been overtaken by events. The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee is seized with the matter.
*HON. NYABANI: On a point of privilege Mr. Speaker Sir. My issue is that I was chosen by the people of Rushinga to represent them in Parliament but what I have realised now is that I am no longer capable of representing them in Parliament because Rushinga is far away. I am not able to stay here in Harare. I just squeezed to come to Harare to inform you that there is no network in Rushinga yet here in Harare there is no accommodation. How am I going to represent the people of Rushinga? This is why I had to come here to inform you. If you are going to allocate fuel to people who stay around here, it is better for you to give me fuel to travel to and from Rushinga every day. I would rather do that on a daily basis. I thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Members, may I respond to Hon. Nyabani, the matter was brought to my attention on Monday through Government Chief Whip Hon. Togarepi. Immediately, I spoke to the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development as he was arriving from London in the company of His Excellency, the President. He indicated that he will interface with the Chairman of the board of the hotels and their chief executives, I have some comfort in that. On Monday, I got some telephone conversation from some members that they had not been accommodated. I looked for the Hon. Minister again and I could not get hold of him. Finally I got hold of the Permanent Secretary Mr. Guvamatanga who assured me that he was going to make some arrangements with the hotels and make sure that payment was done – [HON. HWENDE: Inaudible interjections.] - Order Hon. Member do you want to listen to my response, then listen.
The issue appears to be that the Ministry of Finance is looking at an average cost of rooms. The hotel groups are saying they are being charged inflationary charges in terms of supplies and therefore, they have raised their hotel rates. In response to that, we have what I may call hyper charges from the suppliers. So you have a chicken and egg situation here. The Permanent Secretary should have come back to me. When he did not do that, I thought everything had been sorted out. It appears nothing has been sorted out. I agree with Hon. Nyabani that some constituencies are difficult to communicate with and therefore, Members of Parliament are somehow forced to be in Harare to participate and fulfil their responsibilities.
Now, if I do not get any satisfactory answer, then I will have to raise the issue with His Excellency the President. Last time I said that and they paid – [HON. HWENDE: Hindava muchinyepa.] – Hon. Hwende, I have no reason to lie to you.
HON. T. MLISWA: Hon. Speaker, I just want to supplement.
THE HON. SPEAKER: There is no need for supplementing because the highest office is His Excellency the President.
HON. T. MLISWA: The issue was resolved.
THE HON. SPEAKER: It was resolved, why do we have a problem now if it was resolved?
HON. T. MLISWA: Mr. Speaker, we are very much cognizant of the fact that the economy is tough and Government wants to get a rate which is reasonable. Members of Parliament have no problems with that. If you recall, we agreed that pay the Members of Parliament the money and some had been using their money staying in various places. So, whatever Government agrees on, whether it is US$150 per day with whatever food. We agreed on that and I thought the only thing left was the implementation.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. T. Mliswa, can you take your seat. Have you received that US$150 – [HON. MEMBERS: No.] – Hon. T Mliswa just sit down please. There is nothing that has been resolved because Members of Parliament have not been paid that USS$150, so there is nothing that has been resolved – [HON. BITI: It is Mthuli, lies.] – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Finally, Hon. Members, I sympathise with you in all respect and let us see how we can sort out the issue once I have appealed to the highest office. I thank you.
HON. BITI: Mr. Speaker Sir, my point of national interest is directed to the esteemed Minister of Finance and Economic Development. Mr. Speaker, 75% of our people are suffering.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Biti, you are not connected.
HON. BITI: Mr. Speaker Sir, my point of national interest is directed to the Minister of Finance whom I am begging that you make a ruling that he be summoned before this august House to address the issue of elicit financial flows. Seventy-nine percent of our people are living in extreme poverty.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, Leader of Government Business, Hon. Gonese and the Clerk, can you go out and sort your issues. Sorry Hon. Biti please go ahead.
HON. BITI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Seventy-nine percent of our people are living in extreme poverty surviving on US$1.25 per day yet this country is extremely rich. We have 64 minerals including world class deposits of lithium, gold, platinum, diamonds, chrome et cetera but we have nothing to show for it. A billion dollars is being smuggled out illegally through tobacco and gold smuggling. Can the Hon. Minister come before this august House to lay out a legal road map or otherwise of how he is going to deal with corruption including the gold mafia and elicit financial flows including a forensic audit of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. We cannot suffer from the resource case that we are rich but we are poor because a few elite. Otherwise, how he is going to deal with corruption, including the gold mafia, illicit financial flows and the Forensic Audit of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe? We cannot suffer from the resource case that we are rich, but we are poor because a few elite individuals have decided to steal from the people of this country. Thank you Mr. Speaker – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]
THE HON. SPEAKER: I suppose that is an addition to what Hon. Mliswa has requested, agreed?
HON. BITI: Yes Hon. Speaker.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you.
Hon. Mugadza having stood up.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, is that a point of order or what?
HON MUGADZA: No Mr. Speaker Sir, I have a burning point of national interest – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order, Hon. Member, be in your position. In terms of our Standing Orders, we have a limited number in terms of Members who should raise issues of national interest. If you had listened carefully, I had said Hon. Biti is the last one. Perhaps you may ask a question tomorrow during question time if it is something burning. Thank you.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: Mr. Speaker Sir, on behalf of everyone here, I hereby request that you allow the Hon. Member to speak for today only then tomorrow you will follow your order – [Laughter.] –
*THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order, in this august House, we do not allow go between persons.
ELECTORAL AMENDMENT BILL [H. B. 11, 2022]
First Order read: Adjourned debate on Second Reading of the Electoral Amendment Bill [H.B. 11, 2022].
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I move that the debate do now adjourned.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 10th May, 2023.
PRISONS AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES BILL [H. B. 6, 2022]
Third Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Second Reading of the Prisons and Correctional Services Bill [H. B. 6, 2022].
Question again proposed.
HON. MATARANYIKA: 1.0.Introduction
Public participation and involvement in law-making processes remains a central mandate of Parliament and complies with its vision of a “… people-driven” Parliament. In fulfillment of its constitutional obligation, Parliament, through the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, conducted public consultations on the Prisons and Correctional Service Bill to gather views and opinions of the people from the 20th to the 25th of February 2023. The Bill which was gazetted on the 7th of October 2022, seeks to repeal the Prisons Act (Chapter 7.11) and replace it with a new Act which is in line with the provisions of the Constitution.
2.0. Background to the Bill
The Prisons Act [Chapter 7:11] was enacted into law on 23 April 1956 and was last amended in 2004. This piece of legislation, dating back to the mid-1950s, is clearly inadequate and out of sync with the international norms and standards relating to the prison administration which is now more on restorative justice as opposed to punishment of offenders. The broadening of the scope of the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service mandate necessitated the review of the current Act to ensure that the legislation is in sync with the Constitution.
Among other things, the Bill proposes the establishment of the Prisons and Correctional Service, Prisons and Correctional Service Commission that will determine how the Service is run, modernization of prisons and correctional facilities to ensure that they meet international norms and standards and a prison system that caters for the needs of vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, juvenile offenders, persons with disabilities, and other special categories that have special needs.
The Committee was split into two teams covering all the country’s 10 provinces spread over 19 venues. Team A covered Mashonaland West, Midlands, Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South while Team B covered Mashonaland Central, Harare, Mashonaland East, Manicaland and Masvingo. The Committee considered submissions received from the public consultations in addition to written submissions received from Veritas and Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service.
4.0. General Submissions
Members of the public submitted that there is a need to upgrade and expand prisons and correctional facilities in order to mitigate overcrowding in prisons. It was emphasized that it is essential to distinguish inmates according to their ages because doing so will prevent younger inmates (18 years to 21 years) from being influenced by the older inmates with more criminal experience. In addition, it was highlighted that there is a need to utilise the industrial skills of inmates on various projects in order to generate income for prisoners and the country.
It was further suggested that correctional officers receive a minimum of three years of training and a minimum qualification of diploma be required for one to qualify as an officer. It was highlighted that the Bill has to be carefully checked for errors as it refers to section 109 of the Constitution in Clause 183 which has no connection.
5.0. Specific submissions on the Bill
Some members of the public submitted that although the Bill set out sections 227, 230, and 231 of the Constitution, there is a need for the Bill to also mention section 207 (2) of the Constitution, which states that the security services, including the Prison and Correctional Service, are subject to the authority of the Constitution, Executive and Parliamentary oversight.
It was submitted that the Bill is introducing new terms which in some instances have not been properly defined. Reference was made to the “Permanent Secretary of the Ministry”, which to some members of the public is incomplete as to which Ministry is being referred to. It was further highlighted that there is an attempt to define an open correctional facility yet there is an omission of the section which establishes it.
5.3. Clause 4: Principles that guide the Service
The public applauded this clause as it enhances the Constitutional mandate of the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service since the principles include the founding values of accountability and responsiveness.
5.4. Clause 5: Functions of the Service
The public highlighted that this clause introduces a clear mandate of the Service which includes safe and humane custody for inmates, healthcare and rehabilitation programs for inmates. It was submitted that the functions of the Service ought to have been exhaustive as they leave out other issues such as nutrition and access to safe drinking water. However, spelling out clearly the basic functions of the Service will ensure that the Service can be held accountable for any act or omission.
5.5. Clauses 6, 7, and 8: Appointment, Functions, the Delegation of Functions, Retirement, and removal of the Commissioner General of Prisons
Some members of the public highlighted that Clause 6 (1) (2) provides that the Commissioner General of the Service has to comply with policy directives from the Minister in terms of section 229 (4) of the Constitution. It was their view that despite there being some resemblance of security of tenure, the Commissioner General holds office at the pleasure of the President in terms of section 320 (2) of the Constitution.
5.6.Clause 9: Power to appoint, promote, discharge, and demote
by the Commission
Some members of the public highlighted that the Constitution vests this power in the Prisons and Correctional Service Commission. However, the Bill proposes to divest power from the Commission to the President and the Commissioner General for commissioned correctional officers and non-commissioned correctional officers. It was, therefore, submitted that this clause is in violation of section 231(1) of the Constitution which gives the Commission the powers to appoint, promote, discharge and demote. It was their opinion that the Commission will only be a mere consulting body.
5.7.Clause 19: Functions of the Commission
The public noted that there is an additional function of the Commission to those provided for in the Constitution. It was highlighted that the Bill empowers the Commission to make inquiries or investigations as would commissioners under the Commissions of Inquiry Act [Chapter 10:07]. It was submitted that this extra function is couched correctly in that it fully empowers the Commission with the power to carry out unfettered inquiries and investigations as the Commissioner General will merely be consulted as it should be.
5.8.Clause 24: Establishment of Correctional facilities
The public noted that the Bill is introducing various facilities such as temporary prisons, correctional community centres, temporary correctional centres and open correctional facilities. Security levels for these facilities will be determined by the Commissioner General. Members of the public applauded the introduction of these facilities which seek to prepare inmates for reintegration into society. It was submitted that this is in line with the Constitutional mandate of the Service in section 227 (1) of the Constitution, which is rehabilitation and re-integration of offenders.
5.9.Clause 36: Use of weapons and Liability
Some members of the public noted that this clause provides that correctional officers may use weapons in various specified instances. It was highlighted that the Bill goes on to clarify that when force is used, it must be the minimum force necessary in the circumstances and such force should be to restrain and not to kill. The public applauded this clause as it goes further to exempt correctional officers from acts done in good faith. It was their view that this makes it clear that for any unlawful activities by correctional officers during the course of their duties, the Commissioner General and the Service will be held liable.
5.10. Clauses 46 and 55: Discipline of correctional officers
The public submitted that in terms of the Bill, the discipline of correctional officers will continue to be the responsibility of the Commissioner General and not the Service. This provision was applauded for being the more efficient option. However, some members of the public questioned the constitutionality of the clause since the Service is mandated by section 231 of the Constitution to fix and regulate members’ conditions of service and to ensure the well-being, good administration, and efficiency of the Service.
Some members of the public highlighted that the Bill states that disciplinary proceedings must be conducted in the English language and a correctional officer's level of comprehension of English will be assessed by the board and appoint another correctional officer or person as an interpreter. It was submitted that this is unconstitutional as all administrative conduct must be substantively and procedurally fair as provided for in Section 68 of the Constitution. It was their view that the board should not be empowered to assess the need for an interpreter but rather, a qualified interpreter should be made available on request by the correctional officer.
5.11. Clause 83: Access to legal representation by inmates
Some members of the public highlighted that this clause mandates the officer in charge to provide an inmate with a legal practitioner with adequate facilities to interview the inmate. However, it was submitted that this clause does not comply with the Constitution which requires that the consultations between an inmate and a legal practitioner of their choice must be held in private and that the inmate be informed of this right. It was further submitted that section 50 (5) (b) of the Constitution is clear on the standard and this should be included in the Bill.
5.12. Clause 91: Health care of inmates
The public highlighted that the Bill will provide for various health rights including routine check-ups and preventative measures. It was submitted that the Bill will mandate a medical officer to give special regard and care to inmates on the death penalty by examining them every day and observing their mental condition. However, some members of the public argued that the death penalty should be abolished because it is a form of torture that affects the mental health of a person and that it is an expense to the taxpayers.
5.13. Clause 139: Establishment of the State parole board
Some members of the public were of the view that membership of the board is not clear on numbers as it refers to a chairperson, two vice chairpersons, and not more than five other persons who may not be officers of the Service. It was therefore submitted that this leaves anyone to guess that it will be an eight-member board. It was further submitted that the tenure of membership is not clear on re-appointment after a five-year term, hence it will be better to clarify the tenure of the reappointment.
5.14. Clauses 143-148: Release on Parole
Some members of the public were of the view that the exclusion of inmates on death sentence from eligibility for parole is discriminatory, especially considering the fact that those serving extended sentences such as murder will be eligible for parole. It was their submission that the board will only recommend the release of a prisoner on death sentence where it involves a serious health hazard that may require treatment or if the inmate is of advanced age or with a disability. Other members of the public were of the view that not every inmate should be released on parole, and the board should take adequate measures to evaluate behaviour change because there is a risk of releasing criminals who will re-commit the same offences.
5.15. Clause 169: Correctional Board of Visitors
The public applauded the introduction of this board as a noble initiative that will go a long way in increasing accountability and inmates’ welfare. However, it was recommended that the Correctional Board of Visitors’ tenure be five years to match that of the Commission.
5.16. Clause 171: Reports on Long-Term Inmates
Some members of the public submitted that this clause is discriminatory as it does not apply to inmates on the death sentence. It was their view that this clause violates the right to equal protection and benefit of the law as mandated by Section 56 (1) of the Constitution.
5.17. Clauses 182-183: Policy Directions and power to make regulations
Some members of the public submitted that the directions and regulations are to be given and made by the Minister alone. It was their view that the Commission be involved in the decision-making process as provided for by the Constitution.
6.0. Committee observations
The Committee made the following observations:
6.1. There was a general consensus that the repeal of the Prisons Act was long overdue, hence the Bill was applauded for seeking to align the law with the Constitution and international standards.
6.2. There was a consensus that there is a need for government to put more effort and resources towards improving the basic living conditions of prisoners in Zimbabwe.
6.3. The public applauded the Government’s effort towards the correctional aspect of the Service.
7.0. Committee Recommendations
The Committee, therefore, recommends the following:
7.1. Creation of a reserve force that will act as a pool where the Commissioner General may resort to in the event of a gap being discovered within the Service.
7.2. Extension of years of service beyond fifty years.
7.3. For retired members of the Service to retain their ranks just like any other members of the Security Service.
7.4. Members of the internal police be given powers to arrest any member of the service regardless of rank.
7.5. The Bill should clearly indicate what happens to the prohibited articles that would have been searched and seized from inmates.
7.6. The Bill should provide for protection of prisons cantonment areas.
The Bill makes a commendable effort in legislating for the incarceration, rehabilitation, and reintegration of offenders in line with international standards and trends. It provides a framework to facilitate the execution of the institution’s mission to ‘protect society from criminal elements through the incarceration, and rehabilitation of offenders for their successful reintegration into society while exercising reasonable, safe, secure and humane control’. The Committee, therefore, believes that passing this Bill after consideration of the views of the people and their recommendations will help to shape the country’s justice delivery system in line with the National Development Strategy 1.
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to contribute to the Prisons and Correctional Services Bill presented by Hon. Mataranyika as the Chairperson of the Committee. I think the services are supposed to be as correctional in nature. I think when we talk about correctional, we also talk about rehabilitation of the person and rehabilitating their ways of doing things so that they do not ultimately end up in prison. It is not a secret that when you talk about somebody going to prison, it is rather perceived to be a bad thing especially in Africa where prison should be nasty and if there is anything, most of the people who go to prison leave prison hard-core and yet it is supposed to be a place which is offering services from a correctional point of view.
One key issue which I think is missing and which was not highlighted is that it is all good saying all this but already they are under resourced. So how do you come up with this grand idea when there are no resources? The jails are full, the food is not good and the clothing is not good. Our colleague Member of Parliament Hon. Sikhala is wearing clothes which he uses at home. He is now using them there because there is no material which they are supposed to be given which is supposed to be in line with those requirements. There is this glaring issue and so, what measures are going to be taken from a resource mobilisation point of view to ensure that once this is done, it will be what we want it to be. The reason why I say this is that we have done a lot in addressing a lot of issues from a paperwork point of view.
Today, you were more less exposed to how we have passed and approved these budgets in this Parliament but still, there is nothing happening and this is a critical issue. Why are we approving budgets and yet there is no money and nothing happened? Inflation is there and no one is serious to come to this House and also the Minister of Finance does not come to this House to also present a supplementary budget. How do we move on and this is common sense issue that we do this, but how is it complemented when the budgets we pass are not enough? There is no supplementary and at the end of the day, a good Bill and nothing happens.
The question is that what resource do we have to support this? Without the resource, it becomes difficult and they think the issue is moving forward before anything is done. We should first of all ask how much money do we have for this and then we debate knowing how much money we have and this money is enough to do X, Y and Z. It becomes rhetoric that we come to debate to bring the issues up and you as the Speaker have implored on us to be factual and read.
We have read and we have done everything and we want to thank you for that to a point where some of us, I wish I could be with some of the Members of Parliament, depending on who the next Speaker will be, my next question is will the next Speaker be able to capacitate us the way you have done. Will he be able to ask us to say, this question you are asking Hon. Mliswa, which section of the Constitution and which Standing Orders and that will let you work hard to get that. So, where is the courage as Members of Parliament? The other arm of the Executive has not done that. As we come to the end of this Parliament to say what role did we do? We have seen Hon. Ziyambi pushing Bills, working hard-yes, but what then happens to those Bills? There is nothing because there is no resource. The question of recourse is critical, 43 years after independence, Central Prison is still the same, we have got farms, we went through a Land Reform, there was no land given which should suit the aspect of rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is also needed but no environment for the activities that you are to be doing.
Rehabilitation talks about recreation, sport, reading, there must be a university, a college, a school where they are attending and they are now stuck on certain things which build them afterwards and that is human capacity, that is not there. So we seem to have missed an opportunity to be able to be moving Central Prison to another place, the CBD one, they can sell it for higher price, use that money because you will still be using your resource.
Mr. Speaker, if you can imagine that most people are moving out of town towards Newlands. The price of that whole land and today people will just break it, put a new town and facilities there and make more money. That money will then go into the new rehabilitation. I have not seen again that being spoken about that in place of Government not being able to fund this, what other opportunities are there? I know there have been issues of joint ventures in terms of agriculture and a lot of things. I have not seen joint ventures with other things outside agriculture which lead to rehabilitation.
Join ventures with tertiary institutions and vocational colleges so that we really talk about the rehabilitation. We still have got solitary confinement; it is not by choice because there is no resource. There are only rooms available and we have people going into solitary confinements, they do not have to be in there. We now have this confinement which in terms of us dealing with human rights we are already infringing human rights because what crime would have one committed in order to be in solitary confinement.
These solitary confinement facilities are archaic and what crime would have been committed for one to be in there. You see that people have not committed any crime and are still in there because that is the only thing available. What does a solitary confinement do to a human being? The cost of trauma is more, do you understand what solitary confinement means. The effects, the repercussions of one being in solitary confinement. Do we have the mental health experts to be able to deal with that?
So, psychiatrists are critical in quiet a lot of things that happen because once you are in prison, definitely your mind is not the same. I know with experience that at times they just do things to break you but if you are not strong enough, you will be broken. It does not talk about a rehabilitation and correctional service centre. Again, we must look at the issue of prison shops which is a facility that should be there.
I want to give credit to our prison officers, I appreciate them because of my experience, the moment you are arrested and have not being to prison they act like born therapists. I say this from a very an emotional point, they actually rehabilitate you but yet they have not gone through mental or any other course. Credit must go to them, they make you feel better, they tell you that do not worry you will be out tomorrow because you are now on your own. You are in this new environment, you are going to prison, you are going to meet hard core criminals, you do not know where you are going but they are there talking to you all the way long.
So, when I talk about what comes to mind, what are they given in terms of remuneration after doing that, they are a total package. I talked about them dealing with your mental state, you go for the first time to prison, you are locked but you came free. Not only that you must also come with a law that before one goes into prison the judiciary in this country gives you time to go and put things in order, you are very much monitored in term of that but you go back home whether to write a will or to make sure that you are putting things in order and you meet with your family.
The family must be prepared too, families break, they last saw their father or their bread winner when they went to court, they do not know what the outcome is and suddenly they are in prison. Just imagine the trauma of the family, the bread winner and instead of them being given time to say this is the decision the court made, I am going and I will be out, they must hear that form the person. After that you are able to comfort your family that it is okay and everything will be fine. You cannot even hug your children, I at the experience of being incarcerated, I had a son in England, I saw my son over the counter. I broke down, is there no better way of me seeing my son. Do I have to see my son in court and over a counter when I am in that witness stand? I have gone through it but how many are mentally strong as I am? How many can comprehend that so why not have facilities that humanity prevails at all times Mr. Speaker Sir.
Hunhu hwedu hatirase, to these young children what would they think about, when they see their parent go. So, all these facilities must be put in place so that we really talk about a correctional facility and service which is there. The other issue which Hon. Maranyika spoke about is that they are released and they are back again. One of the things which I did when I was in prison, I observed that most people in prison do not deserve to be in prison. It is over a maintenance issue, or fine. So, I then decided to pay their bail, or fine. Each time they saw me coming back, they will be so happy that some more funds are going to be released, they say Cde T. Mliswa is coming. Some will say that I heard you helped this person; you gave them US$15 can you help me also. I will say yes then they will say but we are crowded here and surely do somebody have to be in jail for US$10 to US$15 fine. They do not have it. I simply said I will create a house on my farm and help others who are coming out to come to my farm.
Unfortunately, some are hard core criminals one of them was an armed robber but he was the sweetest person in prison. I said no I want to pay your bail and find a lawyer for you. I told him that you will work on my farm then the next thing after 4 days, he was not there, he was back in town and the next thing he was in jail. I went to see him and he said to me you did you part but I am better here, I am hard core, my freedom is here, I am worried when I am out there, he had his leg shot and he said when I am out there my leg will be shot again. So, I am safer here, you did your part and I thank you for it but allow me to be here, I am safer here. So, those half way homes are good because you do not throw them out to the people, it is where you try and get them to connect with the people. So just somebody being in prison for 5 years going out there to mix with people, there is stigmatization. People have got this whole thinking that imbavha, auya kuzoba. So, anything that is stolen, the first thing that they think about is the person who was released from prison. So, what have we done to create those halfway houses? It is something which I thought Hon. Mataranyika’s point was the reason why they are constantly coming in and out. They must have a facility where they can be welcomed by people who are trained and to say okay, this person’s profession is a. b. c. d. This person would have graduated with a certain degree or diploma; you find them a job. They go back to Government institutions where they must be able to work and able to find themselves slowly without that it becomes quite difficult at the end of the day. On the issue of the parole board, the board in itself it is quite critical. It is critical in that it will help in showing that people can appear before the parole board. Without that being in place, it talks about the other people who are in prison who have lesser crimes who can be on parole and can be released and so forth. Amnesty is there through the President but there is going to be something in place. We cannot be waiting for amnesty and so forth….
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, you are left with three minutes.
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. It is something which I think has got to be done quickly and you have got a number of competent people, the composition of judges who are retired and probably involve this very same House in having a member sitting on it. I am saying this because we equally make laws, especially one from the Committee of Justice and so forth. That will also help, because we also make laws, we must also make sure that laws are being implemented. Representing Parliament is making sure that there is an implementation of the laws that we make. The other thing is that we make a lot of laws Mr. Speaker Sir and they never see the end of the day. That will be my contribution Mr. Speaker Sir. That is a real issue that needs to be taken seriously.
Mr. Speaker, resources are also critical, I am glad the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is here. I would want to understand if the area where central prison was more less evaluated, how much would it cost and will that be enough to go and set up a whole new prison where Government gives land and so forth. So, it is food for thought, I do not think it is something that he can answer now. I think it is something worth considering so that when this is presented here, there is that issue of resources. Thank you Mr. Speaker.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for giving me this opportunity to debate on this particular Bill. Let me start by thanking the Hon. Minister of Justice for bringing this Bill before Parliament. Indeed, the Prison Act deserve to be repealed and replaced with a new Act. I want to thank Hon. Mataranyika and his Committee for a good analysis of the Bill. I just want to start by saying that there are things that we needed to see in the Bill but I will start from the technical issues. We intent to replace this Bill with the Prison and Correction Services Bill but if you check in the Bill there is no transitional clause which is supposed to be there whenever you are repealing an Act and replacing it. I think that omission needs to be dealt with.
There are also technical issues, I know that you want to move from Prison Officers to Correction Officers. I think it is the change of terminology. When I was checking on the Bill, you will then realise that whilst the repeal is there but I think on drafting there were times when the term prison officer was left in the Bill, I think that needs to be sorted. On a fundamental issue, Section 50 (5) of the Constitution gives certain rights to prisoners but what we noticed is that in this Bill, there is no clause which specifically talks about the rights of prisoners. When we come to the Committee Stage, we need the Hon. Minister to ensure that there is actually a standalone clause that talks in respect of the prisoners’ rights.
The other issue which needs to be looked into is the power of the Minister. If you check the Constitution 229 (4), it gives the Minister broad policy directives. If you read the Bill, it sought to give the Minister powers to allow the Commissioner General to act subject to Ministerial directives which if you read it, it appears as if it gives the Minister the powers to micro-manage the Commissioner General. I think the wording should actually tally with what is provided for in the Constitution.
Mr. Speaker Sir, there is an issue which I also believe is critical. I note in the Bill there is a question of discipline, prison members also need to go under various disciplinary measures. I actually thought that if you check the Bill, it actually says that the language which will be used is English and then it says that the person that will decide whether or not to deserve an interpreter should actually be the accused. I think that needs to be sorted rather than to just leave it to the board to make a determination. If a person wants to present his or her case in vernacular that is Shona, Ndebele and so on, let the person demands that. The other issue which I think is commendable is the issue of the State parole board, I think it is very important, it is actually a move in the right direction. The Bill does not specifically state how the appointment of the chairperson and also the vice chairperson of that board will be done. More importantly, I think the Bill should also go further to then make sure that we have got a provisional parole board so that we do not have a challenge where everything has to end up coming to Harare. Let us make sure that the powers are actually decentralized to the various provincial boards.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to say that this is the right direction but also the Minister should also take cognisance of what the Portfolio Committee has suggested. We should be having a fruitful discussion when we come to the Committee Stage in respect of refining this Bill. I thank you.
HON. BITI: Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to add my voice in the second reading session of the Prisons and Correctional Bill. Mr. Speaker the introduction of this new Bill was long overdue. It was long overdue because the new Constitution which came into being in 2013 shifts the focus of our penal regime from one of punishment, what the Romans called the lex talionis , an eye for an eye, if you kill me, I must kill you, if you cut my limb I must cut your limp to a penal regime based on correction, based on restoration, and vindication of the offender. It shifts the penal regime from the criminal philosophy of revenge to the philosophy of restoration and rehabilitation. So, our criminal justice system actually needs to entrench that throughout. So, even before you go to the Prisons and Correctional Bill, that philosophy actually needs to be embedded in the criminal justice system.
Last week Mr. Speaker Sir, I sat in the criminal trial of our colleague, Hon. Job Sikhala who was convicted of obstruction of justice. It was clear in that court room, that the jurisprudence has not moved to the penal philosophy engendered by this Constitution - that of correction, restitution, rehabilitation of the offender, and that of reconciliation of the offender. It is still that punitive mentality. I know that the Government has tried. I know that at some stage, a philosophy that any person found guilty of an offence, we should consider a non-custodial sentence, in particular community service. We have lost that and I know that Justice Garwe, when he was Judge President, did a lot of work on alternative forms of sentencing.
At that time, we were operating under the old Constitution. Now, we have a new Constitution that actually tells us that the purpose of penalty is not revenge, is not the lex talionis which makes the whole world blind but correction, restitution, reconciliation and rehabilitation. So, I would like Mr. Speaker, to see a synergy, a linking and not a decoupling of that philosophy; not just when it comes to the prison authorities but also what is happening in our courts. I do not think that our courts are practicing restitution, rehabilitation, reconciliation and correctional mentality. We are still stuck in the old mindset of punishment, punishment and punishment.
Mr. Speaker, the reason why we moved to correctional is because particularly in Zimbabwe, by far the majority of crimes and convictions are crimes of poverty. A father will steal a loaf of bread because, as I said before, 79% of our people are in poverty and most of our people are unemployed, so people are going to steal. We have prisons crowded with offenders who are in fact pleas of poverty. So therefore, it makes sense that the criminal justice system must be kinder and humane.
Mr. Speaker, I think and agree with the Committee’s Chair, that we must insert Sections 207 and 208 of the Constitution and remind the Prisons and Correctional Service that as a security institution, it is bound by the Constitution. It is bound by the scrutiny and oversight functions of Parliament and that it is bound by the principles of constitutionalism and the rule of law. I also support the call that was made by Hon. Mushoriwa that the rights of prisoners that are codified in Section 50, he could say Section 70, should also be included in the Bill so that there is no ambiguity at all that I have got a right to be visited, that a prisoner has the right to see his priest, medical practitioner and so forth. Those rights should be there.
The other rights Mr. Speaker, which I think we ought to consider; the law is evolving and I know the Hon. Minister will agree with me. I think we should seriously consider giving prisoners the right to vote because when you are convicted, you do not cease to be a citizen. Section 67 of the Constitution says, ‘Every citizen has a right to vote, to participate in politics.’ So, I would like to appeal to the Hon. Minister that we incorporate the right to vote for all prisoners.
I also Mr. Speaker, want to make another point that the majority of our prisons were built during the colonial regime when they were created for Africans, to punish Africans particularly nationalist Africans. Chikurubi Prison Mr. Speaker, is not fit for human habitation, it is not even fit for the pigs that I look after and keep in Dotito there – it is not fit. The infrastructure we have masquerading as prisons is not prisons at all, they are substandard colonial sobriquets that have no right to exist 44 years after independence. They were created to house nationalists like Chikerema, the Nkomos of this world, the Mugabes of this world, the Morton Maliangas of this world, the George Nyandoros of this world, the Lookout Masukus of this world.
I submit Mr. Speaker that we should have destroyed a lot of that infrastructure at Independence in 1980 and built new prison facilities. One of the things that the Bill talks about is Open Prisons. Open Prisons are excellent, and they are consistent with human rights, but if we are going to keep the current prisons Mr. Speaker Sir, let us improve the quality of life of the prison. The right to human dignity codified in Section 51 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe is not suspended because you have now become an inmate. The right to human dignity means that you are entitled to good and adequate food, and the right to human dignity means that you are entitled to sleep on a bed. There is no prison in Zimbabwe with a bed, we sleep on the floor Mr. Speaker.
At Block C, Harare Remand, there is what they call bhemba. So, munorara kunge zvima bhemba and you have to appoint a captain in every row. The captain will say turn left then you all have to turn left, muchirara makadayi, so muchifemerana mugotsi. Mr. Speaker, that is not good enough. Why can we not have beds in prisons? Why can we not have televisions in prison? Why can we not have warm water in prison? Muchando vanhu vanongo pfekedzwa nekugezeswa zvimvura zvinotonhora yet it does not cost a lot of money. I even submit Mr. Speaker that the right to human dignity includes the right to conjugal rights and if a prisoner is married and is incarcerated, why can he not enjoy his conjugal rights? We can give him a condom but he should exercise his right to conjugal rights in prison maybe once a year or once in six months – [Laughter.] – I am told Mr. Speaker that there are other countries that allow conjugal rights every week – [Laughter.] – The point I am making Mr. Speaker …
THE HON. SPEAKER: Yes, you are right, it is every week.
HON. BITI: Thank you for supporting me Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Minister is listening. Conjugal rights must be respected, beds must be provided, and clean clothes must be provided in prisons.
The fourth issue I want to talk about is parole Mr. Speaker. Number one, let us extend parole to all prisoners including those who have been convicted of murder. I am one of those people Mr. Speaker, who feels strongly that capital punishment should be abolished. Capital punishment should be abolished in Zimbabwe and I am glad that President Mnangagwa supports the abolishment of capital punishment in Zimbabwe. On 17th October, 2014, I went to his office when he was still the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. He told me of a story of what happened to him when he was on death row at Harare Central Prison in the 60s.
One of the cruelest things about waiting for the death row Madam Speaker Maám, is you do not know when you are going to be executed. So, you sit there and when the door opens, you think it is you and you develop what scientists call ‘the death row syndrome’. This is schizophrenia or fear that I am the next one because they do not tell you which prisoner they are going to execute. So, I strongly believe and support those who gave evidence to this Committee that capital punishment should be abolished. It is cruel, degrading and offends Section 53 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, not only that Mr. Speaker, but to the extent that the law now permits the execution of men not women. It means it is also infringing the equality provision of our Constitution which says we must treat everyone equally. I am not saying we should kill women; I am saying if we are not killing women, we should also not kill men.
If you have been in a prison in Zimbabwe and I have been in prison several times, surely if you spend 10 years at Chikurubi Madam Speaker, kutofa kurinani because the conditions are substandard. So let us abolish capital punishment which brings me to the issue or parole.
Madam Speaker, there is a judgement which I was privileged to appear. The case is called Obedia Makoni versus Commissioner of Prisons. It is judgement number CCZ 8 of 2016. In that judgement, the Constitutional Court held that it was unconstitutional to send someone to prison without prospects of getting out, without the opportunity of a parole. So I urge the Minister that the introduction of the parole board in this Bill is a very good thing, but let us give it real powers and let us democratise it. Let us have parole boards in every province if not in every district. Our prisons have got over 70 000 prisoners. They are overcrowded. The Minister knows that and the Minister is faced on a day to day basis by calls from the Commissioner of Prisons who is saying my people do not have food, my people do not have uniforms. The last time I was at Harare Remand Prison we did not have water and the Government had to dig boreholes there. So, the parole board should be democratised by making sure that we have many parole boards.
Secondly Madam Speaker, every prisoner should be eligible for parole. They should not be any category of prisoners that are not eligible for parole. Thirdly, the parole board must be given powers of monitoring what happens to prisoners after they have been granted parole to ensure that there is no return. In some countries, Madam Speaker, the parole board actually looks for employment for potential candidates. It actually finds jobs for these prisoners because in many times, the temptation of recommitment is there. They commit crimes again, you heard from Hon. Mliswa that one of the inmates he stayed with went back. So those people either commit crimes again or actually commit suicide because you are so used to prison walls, you become institutionalised. I am sure Madam Speaker, you have watched the brilliant movie called the Shawshank Redemption staring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robins. A brilliant movie on life in prison. They commit suicide because you become institutionalised, you become part of the wall. So parole becomes important in deinstitutionalising the institutionalised prison. So we urge the Minister to give powers to the parole board so that it can also oversee the integration of the prison in society.
We also need clarification because some sections of the Bill speak to the Minister having final say on the recommendations of the parole board and some sections say the Commission. Is it the Commission or the prison? I think the Commission should have powers but the Minister should have an overriding power of appeal. He is the Minister after all and this is an executive function.
Fourthly Madam Speaker, the Constitution provides for clemency and mercy. In the Constitution, the President is given the power. The law treats clemency and pardon as discretionary issues that are given to the President. Yes, the President is given powers but let us make it a process because in other countries, lawyers actually choose to ask for clemency and mercy from the President. So let us make it a judicial process which actually defines what kind of application you can make because it is a remedy Madam Speaker. Let us formalise it so that it becomes an actual remedy.
In the case of Cuthbert Chawira and another versus the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs – it is a constitutional court case in which over 20 prisoners who had spent more than four years and above, some of them 20 years, went to the Constitutional Court and argues that waiting for death row was cruel and degrading, a similar argument that had been made many years ago in the Catholic Commission for Peace and Justice case. The Constitutional Court said but you have got a domestic remedy, you can ask for pardon and clemency from the President. So if the court has regarded that as a domestic remedy then the domestic remedy must be given teeth. It actually must be an enforceable remedy. So Hon. Minister, I appeal that we give more teeth to that remedy.
The next issue that I want to speak about Madam Speaker is the issue of solitary confinement. Why do we need prisoners to be subjected to solitary confinement? They are subjected to solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. They are given 30 minutes right to exercise in the morning and 30 minutes right of exercise in the evening. It is archaic. Prisoners should mingle including death row prisoners. So we should outlaw solitary confinement.
Lastly Madam Speaker, the right to education. In 2008 when I lived at Harare Central Prison, they allowed me to bring books. So, I actually started teaching and playing chess and I think we should legalise the right to education in prisons. The Bill speaks about the right to receive literature from outside, I think it must be more explicit that not only do you have the right to receive literature but you actually have a right to pursue education and a vocation when you are in prison. If you can sing like Alick Macheso, let the prison allow your talent to blossom. If you can sprint like Artwell Mandaza, let the prison give you that talent. If you want to be a nurse or nurse aid in prison, let the prison give you that talent. Remember Madam Speaker, now the focus is now on restitution, restoration or rehabilitation and correction.
Then we have got the issue of children Madam Speaker. I think the law should revisit the issue of mothers who are detained with their babies. There is something terribly wrong with that. The mother commits an offence, the child who is suckling goes and you find her crying. At Chikurubi there is a female section. There is now an ECD there, a learning centre not for children of the prison guards now called correctional officers in this Bill, but of the mothers who are in prison. The child has not committed any crime Madam Speaker. Then we have children offenders. I read in the Herald today about a 14-year-old boy who raped a 9-year-old girl and was imprisoned. The Constitution does not allow that, but we do not have an answer because some of the children zvinhinhi. We have outlawed the Constitutional Court in the case of the State versus Charemba which has applauded whipping of juveniles as punishment. So, some officers are imprisoning them. The Constitution does not allow that, but we still have to balance with the societal needs that recognise that there are children who are actually committing crimes. So, I urge the Minister and this august House that let us revisit the issue of child sentencing and penial justice so that we maintain the spirit of protecting the children which is codified in section 81 of the Constitution.
So, Madam Speaker, this is a progressive Bill. It is a good starting point but there are a lot of things we can do to improve the same particularly around the prisoner’s rights, the parole system and around ensuring that the right to human dignity is maintained which is why I pushed the right of prisoners to conjugal rights and the right of prisoners to voting. I thank you very much Madam Speaker.
HON. B. DUBE: Thank you very much Madam Speaker Ma’am. I want to thank my chairperson of the Committee for presenting before you a very sound report on the progress that we intent to see as Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe being the only home that we have and which we must be able to make sure that all the laws and processes conform to making it the best that it can ever be.
I will quickly go to the issues relating to the qualifications and standards of the prison officers themselves. In the inquiry on this Bill, visits were also done which indicated something that is very terrible, where actually our officers are also living in the same conditions, as if they have committed offences. The conditions and standards are not good at all. That is not what we intent to see. We cannot expect better for the prisoners, when we do not expect to do better for those who look after them. So, it becomes a very important issue to then say, how do we standardise and upgrade their levels.
In the report it is clear that we are saying these people are now officers who are supposed to have specific qualifications that enable them to function as correctional officers as opposed to guards. Our officers are not supposed to be guards. Those people are just following behind prisoners and just checking that the prisoners do not escape but we are supposed to have a system that makes them the people that model and mentor our people so that they come back as better people in society.
So, what is it that we must always bear in mind as human beings? That place which call prison is a potential home for everyone, especially politicians. It is a potential place where you can find it as your home at any given time. I am happy that at one time I heard someone who was preaching and he was actually mocking lawyers and stuff. I was later shocked to see them two weeks down the line that preacher was actually escorted by four lawyers going to court and applying for bail and they were denied. They went there for a while and when they came out, I saw them now talking better.
We have also heard Ministers before who have come and go – now I want to thank Hon. Ziyambi for being a responsible Minister. We have had Minister who came and gone without even trying to correct these things because they never thought it was an issue but it is fortunate or unfortunate that some of the Ministers or former Ministers have also gone through that place. Now they know what it is like. The point that I am trying to make is that what we must be able to do is to make sure that our prisons are correctional if possible because to err is human. People commit offences for various reasons and at times for no reasons at all such that you may just need to sit down with that person, tell them what life is about and they become a better person.
So, what is it that we want to see in our prisons? We want to see our prisons having the better standards in terms of sanitation and all the other facilities that are necessary to rehabilitate a human being. We are supposed to go past the consequential theory of punishment where we are saying every human being that has committed an offence must be punished in such a way that the society is more like revenging for that. That is old model, that is something that we have passed through. We are supposed now to be doing our things in a modern way where we are actually supposed to then say, as society what is it that as society we did not do right that cause people to possibly go to prison? Whilst their there, what is it that we can do better so that when they come out, they come out as better persons. I will tell you that we have a lot of potential in prisons of people who are capable of being corrected and doing better when they come out of prison.
As a result, our visit to Hwahwa Young Offenders actually showed us something that was shocking. We have had students passing their A Levels, in prison. Imagine they pass their A Levels with better qualifications such that if our facilities would allow that so that it can be expanded and we have all our prisons having that young offenders section where people will then go to school. They pass their O Levels and A Levels; they will go to university. May be their sentence was five years, in the end of the five years, they are coming out with a degree. We should also come up with facilities outside – I remember our debate was also this issue of previous convictions which was also an impediment. This is where when people are now being vetted for Government jobs, the Government is requiring that people should not have previous convictions yet at the same time it is the same Government that has had a correctional service there. Those are the things that we must look at and say, why would Government refuse a person that you are accommodating and correcting yourself? Now when they are coming out with a degree, a diploma or with just their O Level qualification and they can sweep well at a Government complex because they have been reformed, why do you now have to deny them on the basis that they have a previous conviction.
A previous conviction must only be brought about at the time when they are committing a second offence. You will then say you are an unrepentant person because we have checked and we have found that you have a previous conviction. It must not be used as a prejudice for potential of a future life. We believe that our prisons are able to correct. I am happy that we met those officers who are responsible for the correctional part in prison. Although with limited resources, we have seen what they are capable of doing. By interviewing prisoners, we have actually realised that they were benefiting more. The Chaplins and other officers there are doing a wonderful job. All we need to do is to make sure that we give them an enabling environment so that they discharge of their mandate excellently.
I want to thank the leadership in the prisons and correctional services. They are trying their best under difficult circumstances. We went to Bindura and we went to the farm. We saw acres which are being planted by prisoners, not as form of punishment like before, zvainzi mabhanditi anenge achifondoka, trying to do mechanised farming where they are using their equipment doing everything right. When that person is coming out, those are the people that we want to then see as A2 farmers, where Government may then identify them, give them offer letters and they start farming from what they would have learnt. Prisons are doing an excellent job and we are betraying them by not making necessary other facilities, especially from the finance side to finance the Ministry of Justice so well so that these things are speeded up and they are refined. I can tell you that through this Bill, we may be able to go very far in terms of making sure that Zimbabwe is a better place and that our prisons are better places for those who are there and those who are outside.
Remember, when you are outside and your relative is in, in spirit you are together. So, it is very important to also get to know that has my relative eaten today? Have they taken a bath; have they not been beaten but I am happy that that tendency of beating prisoners is now rare. In the prisons that we visited, they are actually exhibiting that friendly relationships where the officers and the prisoners are actually relating well as human beings. All that I want to say is let us put in place the necessary facilities that allow for something to continuously improve in the prisons, especially in terms of accommodation.
The relating to the issues on parole, it is my view that every person is entitled to a second chance and every element of justice must be blended with mercy. There is no need to continue to be angry about those people who have offended us or who have offended the community, if they are able to be rehabilitated. Let us give them a chance so, prisons officials can then be able to make continuous assessment of the behaviors of the people there and also make necessary recommendations to the board and people be given a chance to come out and live better lives. The clemency on mercy that is the prerogative of the President must actually be improved in the sense that we must be able to then say to those people who are there for very long periods or who are there waiting death sentences, they must be able to have a proper and clear facility of applying so that the President may exercise his discretion in a judicial manner. When the President was given that function, although he is an Executive, they were given because when the President was given that function, although he is a member of the Executive, when they were given that function to give clemency or mercy, they were given a quasi-judicial function and that quasi-judicial function must be informed by relevant necessary information.
It is my view that we must open up like what happened in South Africa. It must be opened up and evidence presented so that when you see someone being pardoned, you are able to understand when and how they were pardoned and when you see them being given clemency or mercy, you must know. I think the case of Pretorius is a clear demonstration on how these things can function. Where they are not done well, they can be reviewed and somebody can go back and where they have been done right, somebody goes out.
Madam Speaker Ma’am, I want to just say we want to thank the sponsor of this Bill, the Ministry of Justice for coming up with something that is proactive, that is able to show us that there is future for Zimbabwe and our prisons are capable of coming up with something that is nice. For open prisons, I think it is a good model although there is need for more transparency on the qualifications and staff so that people would know whether they qualify or not and how do I qualify? How do I have to qualify but by and large, I believe that this is a good starting point where we are.
We want to support the Ministry of Justice and support the Prison and Correctional Services Department with all the necessary equipment that will enable them to discharge of this new constitutional mandate of not being guards, but being correctional officers and being the friends of our relatives there. They should be the potential friends of the majority of the people who are in politics because chances of getting there are so high. So we do not want to find ourselves in trouble. Let us improve these areas so that if it happens to us one day, we will not be able to cry foul because some of these things we should have done them better.
In conclusion, we used to have a Minister of Home Affairs who when a debate was made relating to cells in the police stations, the Minister answered very rudely. It was Hon. Minister Chombo then and he was saying it was not necessary and he was bragging but it was unfortunate that he became one of the key customers in that area and being there for a long time. When he came out, I read a newspaper where he wrote a long article chronicling everything that he had experienced and it became apparent and clear that when he was Minister, he was supposed to have just done certain things rights. I want to implore Hon. Ziyambi and also Hon. Mataranyika for making sure they spearhead this particular process which also enables people to prepare for certain eventualities that may happen and we do not want to find yourself in trouble. Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.
HON. MARKHAM: Good afternoon Madam Speaker. Most of the points I had have been covered. However, I would like to just labour on the rehabilitation of prisoners. I think the Bill does cover certain issues. Most prisons were designed to have a farm around them and being an agriculture-based economy, I think we should be looking in the Bill with these farms being a part of prison life. It is a therapy and a rehabilitation for prisoners most of which come from a rural home or something. I think it is absolutely appalling that our current state of our prisons does not have beds and they rely on the family.
The issue is with the family. Once someone has been in prison, the burden falls on the family not only because they have lost their bread winner but more importantly, they actually have to support the prisoner, whether it is on food, medical or whether it is on news, the access to the prisoner is another major issue we have. The access is, while it is a right, it is very difficult for one to get there. Once you are there, when you go and see a prisoner you can wait up to three hours just to be let in. That is the problem that we have between the Bill and what is actually implemented; if the Minister could look at better implementation of what the Bill needs.
In general, I am very happy with the Bill and I would just like to add one more point and that is on tracking of prisoners. I believe prisoners should be let out earlier and tracked. The Bulawayo board was covered by Hon. Biti and Hon. Mushoriwa. The Bulawayo board should be looking at the employment for prisoners, tracking of prisoners that are out on a period of time just to encourage good behaviour and reintroduce them into society, particularly for those that are being there for a long time. With that, I thank you.
(v) *HON. MUSARURWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I just want to add my voice to what has been said by Hon. Markham that when we talk about rehabilitation, what we will be talking about is to prepare the prisoner to live a better life after their period of incarceration. When the prisoners are being released, they should be given start-up packs so that when they rejoin the community, they are able to start something unlike the case with them leaving without anything being given. They do not have anywhere to start from.
I am in agreement with the previous speakers who spoke on the issue of solitary confinement. I understand it much better. I was in that solitary confinement for more than 36 months in Chikurubi. It is my wish that no Zimbabwean shall ever experience what I experienced during the time when I was in solitary confinement. I ask that it be repealed. In terms of parole, I am one person who was released on amnesty. I urge that parole should not be discriminatory in terms of gender or in terms of the offence that they have committed, whether it is murder or theft.
If it is parole, everyone should be entitled to a parole. Capital punishment, I strongly support that it be abolished and it should not be found within our law books. In 2018, I went to court and requested that prisoners be allowed to vote and I also requested that they have access to conjugal rights but it was turned down in the High Court until we got to the Supreme Court. It was a plea that prisoners as human beings also have the rights.
I want to move to the issue of correctional services officers. These correctional service officers should have decent accommodation and decent uniforms. It is not pleasing to see a prison officer envying the life of a prisoner because they are not being adequately remunerated. If you go to Chikurubi and you see the residents of our prison officers, you could even cry. Still on that point, in terms of their residences, the prisoners as you and me are both women in this time of winter, it will be so cold and there are no mattresses; they sleep on the floor. The type of blankets that the prisoners have in Chikurubi is that you cannot even give that particular type of a blanket to your dog during winter.
The conditions of the prisoners should be improved and they should be given good blankets, good clothes and decent places to sleep as well as good food. I would want to confess that from 2011 up to 2018, there was a time when you could count the type of nutritious food that you had eaten. I think I had nutritious food for about fifty times in those seven years. Meat is a luxury and there is no margarine that is enjoyed by prisoners. It is our plea that when the Vote for the Ministry of Justice is presented, it should take this into consideration. It does not matter whether you are incarcerated or not, they are serving their sentences, they are still human beings and they should be treated in a humane manner.
Prison farms are producing food. In previous occasions, I asked that prisoners be given modern forms of technology like tractors and all other farm machinery to be able to till the land and for harvesting processes. Right now, during harvest season, they use bare hands to harvest crops. We request that they should be given combine harvesters so that they use the modern machinery just like other people. Thank you.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I move that the debate do now adjourn.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 10th May, 2023.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI) the House adjourned at Twenty-Two Minutes to Five o’clock p.m.