Zimbabwe needs to have a paradigm shift to recognise the rights of prisoners, Deputy Justice minister Obert Gutu has said.
Gutu was commenting on Statutory Instrument (SI) 149 of 2011, prescribing new dietary requirements for prisoners.
The statutory instrument became effective on December 23 last month. The gazetted diet will ensure prisoners get a balanced meal and essential foods daily.
“The Zimbabwe Prison Service (ZPS) should not look up to government for all their funding requirements,” Gutu said.
“SI 149 of 2011 is a major step in the right direction, but because the ZPS like most, if not all, government departments, is facing serious budgetary challenges, it is virtually impossible for them to afford to give prisoners the diet as stipulated by law.”
Gutu said instead of the ZPS always complaining about funding from government, they should come up with measures that would help them sustain themselves.
“On their part, the ZPS should also ensure that they think and plan outside the box. The days of prisons being fully funded by Treasury should be over. The modern correctional services approach, globally, is to run prisons as self-financing entities,” he said.
“Going forward, the ZPS should ensure that their prison farms and other related business projects are run as commercially-viable entities.”
The statutory instrument lists eight essential foods that are expected to be given to prisoners.
“These eight items are essential to meet the minimum dietary and nutrient requirements for inmates and must always be prioritised and provided in recommended amounts every day: 100g porridge, 40ml cooking oil, 200g vegetables, 500g sadza, 10g salt, 130g meat or beans and 30g groundnuts.
The whole idea is to enable prisoners to have a diet that is balanced and nutritious. But, people should always remember that a prison is a prison; it is not a luxury hotel.
There are eight foods which are a must to the prisoners for their diet,” Gutu said.
Prisoner’s diet seeks to comply with the recommended diet for all imprisoned people throughout the world.
It strives to create a balanced diet that will also confirm the fact that even if a person is in prison they are still entitled to certain basic and fundamental human rights.