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SENATE HANSARD 24 AUGUST 2022 VOL 31 NO 61

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Wednesday, 24thAugust, 2022

The Senate met at Half-past Two o’clock p.m.

PRAYERS

(THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE

SWITCHING OFF OF CELL PHONES

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Hon. Senators are reminded to put your gadgets on silent or better still switch them off.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE SENATE

          HON. SEN. MATHUTHU:  Thank you Hon. President of Senate.  I move that Order of the Day, Number 1 on today’s Order Paper be stood over until all the other Orders of the Day have been disposed of. 

          HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA:  I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE THEMATIC COMMITTEE ON GENDER AND DEVELOPMENT ON THE INQUIRY INTO THE STATUS AND WELFARE OF CHILDREN ACCOMPANYING INCARCERATED MOTHERS AND ACCESS TO ANTE-NATAL CARE FOR PREGNANT WOMEN IN PRISONS

          HON. SEN. C. NDLOVU:  I move the motion standing in my name;

That this House takes note of the Report of the Thematic Committee on Gender and Development on the inquiry into the status and welfare of children accompanying incarcerated mothers and access to ante-natal care for pregnant women in prisons.

HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA:  I second.

HON. SEN. C. NDLOVU:  Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to present a report by the Thematic Committee on Gender and Development.

1.0 Introduction

Zimbabwe is a signatory to International Child Protection Instruments, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children (UNCRC) (1989) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) (1999) which outlines the civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights entitled to children, regardless of any circumstances. The Children’s Charter obligates all countries that ratified and acceded to these conventions to maintain and protect the children’s rights, nevertheless being accompanying incarcerated mothers or being in any other conditions. Zimbabwe’s legal and policy framework such as sections 19 and 81 of the Constitution provide for children's rights.

 In addition, Section 58 of the Prisons Act (Chapter 7:11) clearly stipulates that infants may accompany incarcerated mothers in prison. It is from this provision that require the Government to meet the children’s basic needs whilst they are with their mothers in prison. It is from this background that prompted the Committee to conduct an inquiry into the status and welfare of children accompanying incarcerated mothers and access to antenatal services for pregnant women in prisons.

2.0 Objectives

The key objectives of the inquiry were:

  1. To assess the living conditions of minors accompanying mothers that are serving sentences,
  2. To appreciate challenges faced by children living with incarcerated mothers in prison, and
  • To ascertain the provision of antenatal services for pregnant women who are serving jail sentences

3.0 Methodology

As part of the inquiry the Committee undertook the following activities:

The Committee received oral evidence from the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs with regards to government policy on the status and welfare of children accompanying incarcerated mothers. The Committee learnt from the presentation by the Ministry officials that the status and welfare of children who accompany incarcerated mothers in prisons is catered for by Government through State resources.

The Committee also received oral evidence from the Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services (ZPCS). The ZPCS officials acquainted the Committee with challenges faced by children staying with incarcerated mothers, and the availability of antenatal services for pregnant mothers. 

The Committee further received written submissions from the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services. It was from these reports wherein, the Committee was furnished with information about existing established female prisons and the availability of the children’s playground facilities within the prisons for daily socialising with other children and entertainment. The reports received by the Committee outlined some of the charity institutions where children could be referred by prisons when they are released from the institution without any relative to look after.

The Committee conducted fact-finding visits to female prisons and female units’ section from 27June to 1 July 2022 in different provinces. The intention was to gather information on the ground about the status and welfare of children accompanying incarcerated mothers and access to antenatal care for pregnant women in prisons. Table 1 below shows a sample of the visited prisons.

Table 1. Prisons Visited by the Thematic Committee

DAY     

PLACE

27 June 2022

Gokwe Prison Midlands 

28 June 2022

Shurugwi Prison Midlands

29 June 2022

Lupane Prison Matabeleland North 

 30 June 2022

Khami Mlondolozi Prison Bulawayo 

1 July 2022

Mutimurefu Prison Masvingo 

 

4.0 Committee Findings 

4.1 Statistics of Children, Pregnant Mothers and Female Inmates 

The Committee witnessed that there is lower number of female inmates as compared to male from the sample visits conducted. The Committee noted that although women in prison are fewer than men, female inmates include pregnant women, nursing mothers and the mentally challenged. Table 2 below shows statistics on the number of children accompanying incarcerated mothers and pregnant women serving sentences.

Table 2 

Prison Visited

Total female Inmates

Number of Children

Pregnant mothers

Gokwe

 4

  1

 1

Shurugwi

 24 

  2

 3

Lupane

 1

  0

 0

Mlondolozi 

 56

  2

 0

Mutimurefu

 26

  3

 0

 

As illustrated by the table above, it is a fact that some children can be found in prisons not because of being convicted of any crime but by virtue of depending on their mothers in terms of breast feeding, care and early childhood mental development.

4.2 Dietary Scale for children.

The ZPCS officials and the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs confirmed during oral evidence about the existence of a dietary scale for the children staying with their mothers in prison.  The Committee, however, was dismayed to witness during the visits that all prisons are failing to meet the dietary scale as stipulated in the prison policy and procedures. ZPCS staff manning female prisons disclosed to the Committee that there is inadequate funding from Government for the procurement of food that is required on the dietary for children.  ZPCS staff members and prisoners confirmed that they depended upon donations from supporting partners and well-wisher organizations such as churches.

In addition, nursing mothers and pregnant women reported that due to limited resources in prisons they do not have balanced diet.  In most cases, children are always getting same rations just like prisoners without a special diet suitable for infants.  The Committee was dismayed to note that sometimes ZPCS officers made some contributions to assist the children with some basic food recommended for babies. 

4.3 Procurement of dietary scale

In all visited prisons the ZPCS officials informed the Committee that they are currently facing challenges in the procurement process of the different food stocks required in the dietary scale. The ZPCS staff highlighted, that the quantities of items that they require for a prescribed number of children that accompanied their mothers are small to be purchased from big suppliers such as Grain Marketing Board.  In addition, the officials confirmed that there was late disbursement of funds by the treasury for the purchase of the food staff.

4. 4 Clothing 

Clothing is a basic necessity, especially for the new born babies, children and even adults. Across all the visited prisons, it was brought to the Committee’s attention those children faced problems in terms of clothing. Children require special warm clothing especially the new born babies. The Committee was concerned to note that Government is failing to provide for such services. Pregnant women require preparations, but this is not readily available in prisons. ZPCS pleaded with the Committee that they only get these clothing through donations. 

4. 5 Accommodation        

The Committee was informed that prison facilities were no longer meant for punishment but rather a rehabilitation and correctional center for reformation of offenders. In this regard, it was disheartening for the Committee to note that some of the prison infrastructure still resembles punishment facilities where the cells were too small and have no toilets facilities. Members of the Committee witnessed that at Mutimurefu and Lupane, inmates were using bucket system during the night.  Women in prison and ZPCS staff appealed to the Committee that there was no adequate space to separate mothers from new born babies and other inmates and sometimes they shared the cell together, and it was very risky for babies since they risk contracting infections. 

Women prisoners also raised concern on accommodation as they face challenges with those who were on mental rehabilitation especially at Mlondolosi. They appealed to the Committee that the mentally challenged require a separate cell till their condition improve. 

The ZPCS clarified to the Committee that severe accommodation challenges were being faced in holding cells at female sections however, at all established female big prisons such as Shurugwi, Chikurubi, Mlondolosi and Marondera the facilities were upgraded into a favorable rehabilitation condition.  

4.6 Health and Antenatal Services

The Committee was pleased to witness that at every prison there are health staff officers and sometimes a prison clinic for medication and treatment of inmates. ZPCS staff highlighted that pregnant mothers and babies were taken care of by the clinic staff and can access their monthly antenatal services.  The Committee was informed that the ZPCS clinics had midwifery staff to take care of pregnant and new born babies. Successful stories of babies born without any challenges or problem from these health facilities were shared.

However, the Committee received some challenges faced in these clinics. The clinics have shortages of drugs especially for children. The pregnant mothers also pointed out that they required scan services which is currently not available.

All female inmates in visited prisons bemoaned the lack of provision of cancer screening facilities. ZPCS and female inmates also reported to the Committee that they require ambulance for emergency services such as referring due pregnant mothers to hospitals. 

4.7 Water and Sanitation  

With regards to water and sanitation especially considering women and babies to be the most affected, the Committee was pleased to witness that most of the prison facilities have no water challenges. The Committee was appraised of different reservoirs within the prison used for water storage.   However, it was only at Gokwe prison, where there were water shortages, due to rationing. Female inmates raised a concern that this affects the children and women hygiene, and can result in outbreak of diseases or infections. 

4.8 Children Playgrounds Facilities.

In all the five female prisons visited, the Committee noted that there were no any established children’s playgrounds at the prison premises. Children always want to play and mix with others. However, the Committee witnessed that these children were always with their mothers in cells.  Members of ZPCS submitted to the Committee that there was need for upgrading of all female prisons to have playground facilities and creches where children can be taken and mix with the community and get exposure of the outside world. 

4.9 Life After Separation from the Mother

Submissions to the Committee were that the policy of the ZPCS allows for a child to accompany the mother whilst breastfeeding for up to eighteen months and then can be weaned. The child could still stay with the mother up to twenty-four months and thereafter, should be removed from the prison. However, the ZPCS institution raised a concern that they face challenges with regards to the welfare of the child since relatives, social welfare department and well-wisher organisations might not turn up to take care of the child.   In essence, this prompted the ZPCS to allow children to stay even up to four years with their mothers. 

The Committee noted with great concern that there was need for government to play an active role through the social welfare department to assist in the welfare and up keep of these children.  

4.10 Sanitary Wear 

Members of the ZPCS submitted to the Committee, that the institution depended on well-wishers and donations for sanitary wear of the female inmates. Although, the Committee witnessed the availability of sanitary wear in prison cells, it was concerned that these were not supplied by Government, and the situation for the ZPCS institution to be dependent on donations was not sustainable. 

5.0 Observations

5.1 The Committee observed that in all visited female prison facilities, the ZPCS institution depend on donations for the dietary scale of children, clothing, medication and sanitary wear. 

5.2 Members of the Committee observed that government through the responsible Ministry and department of Social Welfare was not full-filling its mandate on provision of basic needs and looking after children who accompanied incarcerated mothers in prison.     

5.3 It was observed that, in all female prisons, female inmates require projects to gain skills and technical skills in handcrafting, homemade production for life sustenance after prison so that they will not continue to commit crimes because of lack of start-up projects.  

5.4 The Committee observed that in all ZPCS institutions there were clinics and professional nurses to look after the inmates and children, however, there was shortage of tools of trade such as drugs and ambulances to fully discharge services. 

5.5 The Committee observed that some of the facilities used by female inmates were constructed in the precolonial era with the aim to punish severely and were no longer suitable for rehabilitation and correction of inmates which is the current thrust. 

5.6 The Committee observed that there were no children play ground facilities such as creches in all visited prisons except for Chikurubi Maximum hence most of the time children accompanying incarcerated mothers spend more time in cells with their mothers and were not exposed to the out of prison environment. 

6.0 Recommendations   

Based on the findings and observations above the Committee recommends that:   

6.1 Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare through the Social Welfare department should provide food, clothing and sanitary wear and accommodation for children accompanying incarcerated mothers beginning from 01 January 2023.

6.2 The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development should timeously disburse the funds allocated for the ZPCS operations, quarterly to ensure the procurement and purchasing of the dietary scale food staff for the welfare of the children accompanying incarcerated beginning from 30 September 2022.

6.3 The Ministry of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs should in the 2023 budget provide for construction of more cells suitable for correction and rehabilitation of inmates as compared to current punishable cells existing.

6.4 The ZPCS female units should have children playgrounds facilities to be used by both children accompanying incarcerated mothers and those within the community, by 28 February 2023.

6.5 The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in the 2023 budget to consider and increase the budget allocations of the ZPCS projects such as farming to enable self-sustenance and food security in prisons.

6.6 The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services through their rehabilitation programs should implement incoming generating projects that the women could receive start-up money once their sentences are served February 2023. 

6.7 The ministry of Health and Child Care should provide for ambulances in the 2023 national budget to the major Female prisons in the country for emergency services on children and pregnant mothers.

7.0 Conclusion

Children are the future of our nation hence they need to be protected and enjoy their rights regardless of the circumstances that their mothers are facing. A fetus is a human being therefore, needs to be protected by making the mother acquire and access all the antenatal services for her to give life. Children accompanying mothers in prisons should feel and access all what is required for a normal growth of a child. I thank you.

*HON. SEN. CHISOROCHENGWE: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to add my voice on the report that was tabled by Hon. Sen. Chief Ndlovu on incarcerated female inmates.  We visited five prisons where we saw women who are incarcerated and they totalled 911 and nine of them had children.  Those who were pregnant were four.  There was a challenge with food for the children, most of the time they get porridge without sugar for the children because there is no sugar.  Everyone who is in prison survives on donations from donors; the Government is not doing much to assist the Prisons and Correctional Services. It actually affects the female inmates. 

On the issue of food, there are those young children, the newly born and those that start taking solids, they are not able to get food, they are also not able to get clothes for these children.  We also observed that when people are incarcerated, when they have children the relatives neglect them.  People need to be educated and to raise awareness on the importance of looking after the incarcerated inmates. 

          On the issue of accommodation, if you look at the rooms where they stay, they are crowded in those rooms and the rooms are not conducive for the children.  If you look at the rooms that they stay with their babies, some are breastfeeding and some are newly born.  The ablution facilities are very close to where they stay, they are within the same area especially in Gokwe, they were saying that they had gone for three days without water and yet people need to access the toilets.  This is a very difficult situation especially for mothers with children. 

          Mr. President, we also witnessed that in one of the prisons in Lupane, they have water challenges so they harvest water and keep it in two-litre containers so if one uses the toilet, one cannot use the two litres of water to flush the toilets and that affects the health of children.  On the issue of health, we realised that clinics are available for those who are pregnant but the challenge is that if one has pregnancy complications, she would need to be transferred to bigger hospitals.  They do not have transport to ferry such inmates to referral hospital. The request is that they be availed ambulances for this cause. 

          Furthermore, on the issue of health, we realised that there are some who are incarcerated whilst they are on ARV therapy, we were informed that they are able to access their ARV drugs.  What they do not have access to care facilities for scans because the clinics are not well equipped in terms of scanning equipment.  So the Government needs to chip in and address this. 

On the issue of access to water, we know water is a challenge everywhere.  If possible, the issue of water must be addressed in the prisons because there is a mixed bag of pregnant mothers, nursing mothers and those without children.  You find that the innocent child is suffering in prison.  We request that Government should drill boreholes to address the issue of water challenges.  On the issue of children who are now of pre-school going age, there is need to create playgrounds and preschools for these children to go and play and enjoy themselves and have a normal life like any other child. 

          On the issue of weaning the child, they wean the child at eight months and the child is there for 24 months.  What we urge the public to do is to come and take the babies from the inmates and they should be aware of the fact that when a person gives birth in prison, the child should not suffer but they should come and take the child after eight months.  The husband should get the child or the relatives so that a child grows up in an ideal home and family setup. 

          On the issue of sanitary wear, they are getting sanitary wear but these pads are being availed by donors and churches.  They are the ones providing sanitary wear and clothing as well as medication.  They get medication through donors.  Government is not doing much to help the inmates.  The female inmates also require empowerment programmes such as sewing or market gardening so that after serving their sentences, they are able to self-sustain through these skills. 

          Mr. President, on the issue of budget, if possible, my request is that in 2023, Government should set aside funds for improving cells in prisons as well as the rooms.  What we witnessed in Mutimurefu, the rooms are so tiny and five people are expected to reside in that small room.  If they have to sleep, they all have to face one side and if one wants to change the sleeping side, they all have to turn again.  I think Government should consider this on the 2023 budget.

          On the future of the children that I am talking about, that is where my concern is and that is a painful situation for the children to grow up in such an environment.  It affects them psychologically, let us raise awareness out there that if one’s relative is incarcerated and has a child, you should go and get the child.  We are not sure when the grounds will be constructed because it will take time.  We as the relatives of the inmates, should take the initiative to take the child and allow the child to grow in a normal environment.  If I consider what we realised in Lupane, there was one female inmate and the rest were male.  The clothes worn by men in Lupane where worn out and I think the Government needs to assist with clothing for the inmates especially those in Lupane.  I thank you.

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT OF SENATE

MEETING WITH PRIMSON TRADING (PVT.) LTD.

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I have an announcement.  I would like to inform the Senate that Primson Trading (pvt) Ltd was engaged by Parliament to conduct an evaluation of the Institutional Strategic Plan 2018 to 2023 and the process is currently underway.  To this end, they intend to meet the Chairperson and two Members from each Parliamentary Committee on Friday, 26th August, 2022 as follows;

          1.The Thematic Committee on Human Rights and the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Local Government at 0900 hours in Committee Room No. 1.

          2.Thematic Committee on Indigenisation and Empowerment and the Portfolio Committees on Transport and Infrastructural Development and Energy and Power Development at 0900 hours in Committee Room No. 2.

          3.Thematic Committee on HIV and AIDS and Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care and Women Affairs and Community Development at 1100 hours in Committee Romm No. 1.

          4.Thematice Committee on Peace and Security and Portfolio Committees on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Defence and Homes Affairs and Security Service at 1000 hours in Committee Room No. 2.

          Lastly, the Thematic Committee on Sustainable Development Goal, Portfolio Committees on Budget, Finance and Economic Development, Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Public Accounts at 1000 hours in Committee Room No. 4.

          *HON. SIPANI-HUNGWE: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity. Let me add my voice to this motion.  I had to rush here because I was attending to another programme and I thought it would be best for me to add a few words in support of the report that was tabled by the Chairperson of the Thematic Committee on Gender and Development. I am a member of the Committee and I took  part in the tours. We went on tours throughout prisons in the country and we were mainly looking at female inmates who are incarcerated with their children or are pregnant.

          We were deeply touched by what we saw. We went to Gokwe Prison, Shurugwi Prison in Midlands, Lupane Prison in Matabeleland North, Khami Prison in Bulawayo and we also went to Mutimurefu Prison in Masvingo. We witnessed the status of women who are incarcerated with their children and realised that the lives that the children were living were very difficult and yet the child is innocent, but have to suffer for the criminal offences of their parents. My request is that the Government should expedite looking into this issue. The Government did not consider that there are children who are staying with their incarcerated mothers in prison.

          I want to talk about what we witnessed in Mutimurefu. There are female prisons that were built by the colonialists and these are very tiny such that you find five or six inmates staying in that room. They are unable to even turn when they are sleeping even if there is a child. The child who grows up in such a situation - we all know that cognitive development of a child begins from two years to five years. That is why we take our children to children’s centres.

          I do not know how I can put it across but in terms of cognitive development, that child is affected and does not know what is happening outside because a child requires growing up in a normal situation under normal circumstances playing with others. A mother can leave their child to another inmate while she is doing something else. So, we are saying if only the Government could look into this matter and come up with measures as to how those children can be assisted. That is why some children when they join society, their thoughts are all about prisons and you will realise that they have a criminal mind. They believe that, that is the way life is and they end up being arrested.

          In terms of water, we realised that there is no water. In other areas where water is available, a child is there and they have their toilet in the same room that they sleep in. Sometimes it is a boy child and you find that children mature early nowadays. In that room there is the toilet and everything is done in that small room and we request that the Government should ensure that those incarcerated female inmates should be given another area for them to serve their sentence since it is a correctional centre.

          We are saying that female inmates with children should be segregated from other female prisoners without children and maybe that will assist to build the character of the child. Furthermore, a child at that age should go and play with other kids in general. That is how that child can develop physically and cognitively. We were deeply pained that in our prisons, the food that is eaten by the incarcerated mother is the same food that the baby is given.

          If the child gets something better, it is because of the good heart of the donors. They say that in Mutimurefu, the Seventh Day Adventist Church is also contributing and donating to the Prison. We want to name the churches for the good job that they are doing. We were told that there were donors and one of the churches that donated and is dominant is the Seventh Day Adventist.

          So we are saying we cannot rely on donations. The Government should step in with measures to ensure that these children get good food for their nutrition. There are women who are arrested or incarcerated when they are pregnant and when the pregnancy is due, it does not matter whether you are incarcerated or not. There are some who experience complications. There are no ambulances that are there to ferry the inmates to referral centres. So we are saying Government should ensure that every female prison has an ambulance to assist such inmates.  What I realised is that very few women commit crimes because there are fewer women in prisons than men. As women, we go through menstrual periods every month, so we need sanitary pads. Yes, we heard that they were provided with sanitary pads but they were not from Government.  This was coming from donors.  We urge Government to also channel funding towards provision of sanitary wear in prisons.

          In our African culture, if a woman commits a crime and is incarcerated together with a child – we see street kids mushrooming in the streets, some of them have mothers who are in prisons.  Social Welfare is doing its duty but it is overwhelmed.  However, even if they look after a child when the mother is in prison, after the age of 6/7, they expect the relatives of the child to take him/her but in our African culture, it will be difficult to have anyone who will volunteer to look after that child.  So we are saying that Government, through Social Welfare should look after that child until the mother is out of prison.

          We heard that a child can stay in prison for two to four years.  So the Government should take over from there.  We are also proposing that the Ministry of Finance should allocate more resources to the department of the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services so that they can take care of the children who accompany their mothers to prison.

          We are also saying the Ministry of Health should provide ambulances in prisons so that when a woman develops complications during labour, she can be rushed to the nearest hospital.  In 2023, we anticipate that we will have ambulances in all the prisons.  The Social Welfare Ministry should also address this.  In most   things we are looking forward that these measures be taken before the expiry of this Ninth Parliament.  With these words, I thank you.

          HON. SEN. MOHADI: Thank you Mr. President.  First and foremost, I would like to thank Hon. Sen. C. Ndlovu, the Chairperson of the Gender and Development Committee, who presented this report in this House.  I would also like to thank the seconder of the motion.  I am not a member of this Committee but with another Committee, we have also visited some female prisons.  Really, it is pathetic when we talk about children who are kept in prisons because they are just like anyone who is arrested.  The conditions that they live in are for someone who has got a case to answer.  Unfortunately, these children have no case to answer.  They have not sinned to anyone.  They do not know anything about what is happening.

          According to the human rights, their children’s rights are violated by staying in prisons when they have no case to answer.  The mothers are the ones who have got a case to answer, not the children.  I hope that the Government has to provide these innocent children with proper accommodation while they are waiting for their mothers who have got cases to answer to be released.  Those who visited those prisons clearly indicated that these mothers have somewhere to stay, which is not user friendly for these children because all children need much care from the time they are born or when they are about to be born.  Instead of them getting that care because they did not caused any pain to anyone, that is the time when they suffer the most.  When they are born they need food to eat, water to bath and drink and everything that is necessary, yet in those prisons it is limited. 

          You will find that when we are talking about water, the water that they get is water for each and everyone who has got a case to answer.  Really it is not a prison issue at all but a national one.  When we talk of the toilets that are being used in prisons they are just found where these people sleep, where they also eat food and when we look at the hygiene part of it, those children are disadvantaged even though they have no case to answer.

          When we look at these young children, as they grow while in those prisons, they are just like any other child who is born. They need to go to ECD. We really wonder where they go.  They only know those issues to do with stealing and whatever case because of the environment that they stay.  These children may be our next presidents or senators but the way they grow up and how they are groomed, no one can tell.  No one can tell an interesting story about those children, yet we are there.  We are representatives from different places and we are also representatives of these innocent children.  They need their space and they need to live happily like any other child.  If Government can build rooms where these children can be kept within those prisons but separated maybe from their mothers, which have got enough facilities for the children, it would be better for them. 

          At prisons, you find that there are lessons that are done by inmates.  If they can also find a teacher to groom these children.  There is need for an increase in the budget so that some structures to cater for the children can be built.  This is not a once off thing, it will always be there.  Pregnant women and those with babies will always be there in prisons.  We want this situation to come to an end one of the days so that children get some sought of relief during their mothers’ term in prison.  Mr. President, I just thought that I could add a few words to this report which has been brought to this august Senate.  I so submit.  Thank you. 

          *HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA:  Thank you Mr. President for the time that you have given me to add my voice.  I also want to thank Hon. Sen. C. Ndlovu for tabling the report from the Gender and Development Thematic Committee.  Their report is very good.  Mr. President, we heard of a lot of touching issues that were discussed in this House that shows how forgotten the children who are incarcerated with their mothers are. 

Mr. President allow me to say the truth that I brought this matter as a motion and Hon. Senators, both male and females debated this motion and what we wanted was protection of these children.  We want these children to stay with their parents in prison and in my opinion, they are also serving sentences with their parents, yet they are innocent.  Some are staying in prison for four years with their incarcerated mothers.  We said that we needed legislation to protect the children and female inmates because we saw this as a painful situation that affects the children a lot.  I hope that as we do our budget as a country, we will remember and consider these children.  We should know that they are children of Zimbabwe and should be protected.  The Government should come up with legislation that protects these children.

As children grow up, they need clothing.  The Social Welfare Department should be given a budget to ensure that clothing for these children is available, such as nappies.  There is also need for towels for female inmates with babies.  They should be given time to breast feed their children so that the child can have a normal life.  We agreed as Senators, both male and female, that we need to enact legislation to protect the children and we also need to avail funding for the protection of these children.  These female inmates might have committed criminal offences.  When magistrates pass judgements, as outsiders, we cannot tell the judges what to do because those with the authority to see whether the sentence is ideal for the crime are there.

As we proceed Mr. President, the country is ours.  As parents, we also wish that our President at times when he pronounces amnesty, it would be good for such inmates to be considered under the Presidential amnesty.  So, we need to come up with such recommendations.  Incarcerated mothers with children should be beneficiaries of the Presidential amnesty.  Some of these children may be the President of tomorrow.  Maybe that child will become one of the leaders of Government in future.  We do not want to talk much about the mothers but what we are saying is that the children need to be protected and hence, they should be pardoned.  That amnesty will also be correctional in that they will not commit a crime again. 

A child enjoys playing with other children.  So if they can have a normal life in society where they play with other children, even in the prisons where they can play and have fun and then towards the end of the day, they can then be taken back to their mothers in prison to spend the night with them.  For a child to be able to walk, it is because of interaction with fellow children whereas in the prisons, they are just protected.  They cannot play with any other children, so I reiterate Mr. President, my motion that I moved in this House. 

Mr. President, I was not happy with the progress on the motion.  We were sent by Parliament to investigate and visit the areas.  Yes, it was robustly debated but on the day we came back, that is when I wanted to wind up the motion and I was told that the time had expired for that motion.  I was not happy Mr. President.  When such a motion has come, a person should be told to wind up.  It was not adopted and that affected me a lot.  If its time had elapsed on the Order Paper or it had been debated for long, hence it had to be removed from the Order Paper but I know most times you are given time to wind up the motion and move for adoption.

As I conclude Mr. President, we are all aware that women have their menstrual cycle and when they are on their menstrual periods, they should be protected and they should be availed the requisite resources, that is sanitary wear.  So I think that is something that needs to be considered private and it preserves the dignity of the women.  Those who went around the prisons witnessed this.  They witnessed some of the painful situations.  Some had children and others were pregnant.  Pregnancy is natural and people need to go for periodic check-ups.  I want to support the suggestion that they should be availed ambulances and also the requisite human resources to periodically check on them when pregnant and to see whether the pregnancy is progressing well.  That is how we can protect our nation.  We want this issue to be taken very seriously.

I also have explained that the children we see on the streets, it is because some of the inmates when released; they just tell their children to go and they end up being street kids.  So we need to look into that and see what the future of those released out of prison in terms of both the child and the mother is like.  On that issue, again Mr. President, it really concerns me that these children are not protected, they need protection.

The Government should ensure that these children are prioritised in terms of education and schools.  Yes, we do have BEAM and they should have access to education because of their ages since they were brought up in prison yet they had not committed any crime.  So Mr. President, this is a very pertinent issue that was debated in this House brought by Hon. Sen. C. Ndlovu and we need to take this seriously.  I reiterate that the Government should enact legislation to protect these children.  We also heard about the Mutimurefu situation that there are some Seventh Day Adventists who bring donations.  They are people of this land, so these children are people of Zimbabwe and the Government should look after them.

I want to conclude Mr. President and I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity and to thank Hon. Sen. Chief Ndlovu for bringing this motion.  I thank you.

THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Thank you Hon. Sen. Chirongoma.  You are being reminded that when we are in this House, you are supposed to ensure that you stick to the motion.  I thank you.

+HON. SEN. S. MPOFU:  Thank you Mr. President for giving me an opportunity to debate on this important report.  The reason why we visited the female prisons was to check the female prisoners on how they are living in prisons.  We visited five female prisons and we visited female prisoners who are breast feeding in particular.

It is very painful for a child to be in prison because of the mother who has been apprehended and incarcerated.  It would be like the child is now serving a prison term.  The other thing that we wanted to see is whether the children are getting sufficient food when they are in prison.  It is very important for a child to get sufficient food when he or she is young so that he or she grows up healthy.

It is not very good for a child to have kwashiorkor when he or she is young.  It is worrying that the children are getting food which the adults are eating.  We know very well that when you are in prison, all inmates are being given the same food and it is very painful when the child is not given his or her food which is needed for his or her body, and it was said that they are not being given funds to buy food for these children. 

The money that they are allocated from Treasury, they are not receiving it on time. Sometimes the prison officers are the ones who end up assisting these children by giving them food. It is very important that there should be enough food for the children to cater for their needs. We thank the prison officers for assisting these children.  We are very grateful to non-governmental organisations that assist these children. As Government, we must not rely on NGOs to feed our prisoners, it is not good. There must be projects in prisons that will help prisons feed their inmates.  Sometimes it was alleged that some women are giving birth in prisons and they are failing to get ambulance service to take them to hospital.

Government must assist by allocating an ambulance to every prison so that they take the inmates to hospital in cases of emergency.  If indeed someone is apprehended or incarcerated while she is pregnant, she should go for check-ups; pregnant inmates are failing to access ante-natal services.  The cells are very small and there is no space to relax in these cells and children do not have enough space to run around or play games.

The cells are not habitable because sometimes ablution facilities are in those cells and they use the bucket system to flush.  This can cause illnesses like tuberculosis and diarrhea. Government must build separate cells for pregnant women and those with children.  It is not healthy if inmates’ toilets are in the same cells which they live in. In Gokwe, the water is rationed and this is not very healthy. The cells must be refurbished because these ones were built during the colonial era. Mentally challenged inmates must not be kept together with other inmates, especially women who are pregnant or women with babies.

The Government must build schools for prisons so that the children will attend school or pre-school.  It is very important that they must consider education for children whose mothers are in prison. It was also said that if the child turns two years, the relatives of the mother are free to take the child out of prison.  I was suggesting that those with lighter crimes be given community services if they are pregnant or they have babies that are under two years.  The Government must introduce projects like garment making and poultry because it will also help the inmates when their jail term ends.

The Government must buy more ambulances for emergency purposes.  With these few words, I thank you for giving me this opportunity to add my voice.

          *HON. SEN. CHINAKE: Thank you Mr. President.  I would like to add my voice to the motion being debated by my fellow Senators.  I think this is the fourth time we are debating this issue in this House on the state of prisons.  As we debated before Mr. President, we realised that the incarcerated female prisoners are still experiencing challenges.  Most prisons in this country were built without women in mind because crimes used to be done more by men.  That is why you hear Senators talking about female inmates being put in a small room.  As Government, we are not even taking this into consideration by ensuring that we build more accommodation in prisons to accommodate the women. 

          Mr. President, when we went around with our Committee at one time, we realised that they were experiencing challenges.  What is in place are these makeshift rooms for them to live in.  Other Senators even said that children are now used to see every colour as yellow and when they see a different colour, it is not normal to them because of the clothing that was worn in prison.  Nowadays prisons are being made as correctional services whereby one is going to be rehabilitated and to assist them as they reintegrate into society.  They are also empowered through various projects such as market gardening, sewing and craft making.  When they complete serving their sentences, they should be reformed and they should not go back to their previous lives of criminal activities.  We expect them to be released as people who are now of good moral standards as they core exist with others in society such that people get surprised with the behaviour after the correctional service period. 

          Mr. President, the young children who are serving sentence with their mothers, whether they were born there or they companied their mothers when they were sentenced, are facing challenges.  They are serving sentences of the crimes committed by their parents.  We are saying these children should be taken away from the prison setup to places where they can experience and grow up in a normal life with access to skills and resources that they need as children, which are not available in prison. 

          Mr. President, we need to ensure that these kids understand the difference of prison life and a normal life.  We debated this previously in the Senate.  The Senate is the upper House in this country and what we say in this House should be taken seriously.  We are expecting to hear that those children with incarcerated mothers are being removed from the prison setup and enjoy a normal life. They should be aware of the fact that they are not criminals.  If we do not deal with this matter, we will be found guilty before God because we are making children serve sentences from criminal offences that they did not perform. 

          Mr. President, we need to look into the issue of getting them out of prison.  I thank you.

          HON. SEN. C. NDLOVU:  I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. SEN. TONGOGARA:  I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Thursday, 25th August, 2022.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          HON. SEN. MATHUTHU:  I move that Order of the Day Number 3, be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

          HON. SEN. TONGOGARA:  I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

CONDOLENCES ON THE DEATH OF HON. WATSON KHUPE

          *HON. SEN. MANYAU: Thank you Mr. President, I move that Order of the Day, Number 4 be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

          HON. SEN. PHUGENI:  I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE THEMATIC COMMITTEE ON GENDER AND DEVELOPMENT ON THE BENCHMARK VISIT TO RWANDA

          Fifth Order Read:  Adjourned debate on the Report of the Thematic Committee on Gender and Development on the benchmarking visit to Rwanda on women participation in leadership, politics, decision-making positions and women empowerment in the socio-economic sector from 26th to 31st March, 2022.

          Question again proposed.

          HON. SEN. C. NDLOVU:  I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. SEN. MATHUTHU:  I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume. Thursday, 25th August, 2022.

MOTION

PROVISION OF FUNDS FOR COMPLETION OF DAM CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

          Sixth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the need for Government to provide adequate funds for the completion of dam construction projects.

          Question again proposed.

          HON. SEN. C. NDLOVU: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. SEN. CHINAKE: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Thursday, 25th August, 2022.

MOTION

PARENTING AND EMBRACING A RECEPTIVE CULTURE FOR CHILDREN LIVING IN THE STREETS

          Seventh Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on vulnerable children living in the streets.

          Question again proposed.

          HON. SEN. MATHUTHU: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. SEN. CHINAKE: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Thursday, 25th August, 2022.

          On the motion of HON. SEN. MATHUTHU, seconded by HON. SEN. CHINAKE, the Senate adjourned at Fourteen Minutes past Four o’clock p.m.

 

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