DEPUTY minister of Justice Fortune Chasi told Parliament yesterday that the First Lady Grace Mugabe’s Mazowe orphanage home had taken on board some of the children whose mothers were serving jail sentences.
Chasi made the remarks when he was asked by members of the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Human Rights what steps government had taken to ensure minor children were not exposed to harsh prison conditions.
The committee is chaired by Zanu PF Manicaland senator Michael Nyambuya.
“This is a matter of critical concern to the ministry in that it saddens us to see young children being kept in prisons, and so we are trying to work out open prison arrangements in Marondera to try to solve the issue,” Chasi said.
“I must mention that the First Lady (Grace Mugabe) offered to take some of the children to her orphanage in Mazowe and it has given us relief.”
Chasi did not give statistics. However, he said some inmates did not want to be separated from their children, yet the Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services did not have a budget for children’s food requirements.
Chasi said his ministry was in the process of decentralising the Legal Aid Directorate to ensure poor people in rural areas also accessed legal aid, where paralegals would be deployed to assist them with legal issues.
He said there was need to get qualified interpreters in the 16 languages stipulated by the Constitution so that people on trial were not disadvantaged by language barriers.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda and Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma yesterday signed a capacity-building Memorandum of Understanding with the Southern Africa Parliamentary Support Trust (SAPST) and Women in Politics Support Unit (WIPSU).
Mudenda said Parliament had no financial capacity to pay for some of its programmes and thus the need for development partners like WIPSU and SAPST to support them.