President Edgar Lungu says his administration has delivered on its promise of improved working conditions of prison officers. President Lungu cited among the promises that government has fulfilled the harmonisation of salaries and construction of housing units for officers.
The Head of State said this during the official opening of the new Mwembeshi remand correctional centre. He also hinted that government has gone further by procuring uniforms and vehicles so as to ease transport challenges faced by the prisons.
“My government has also delivered its promise through, harmonisation of salaries, procurement of vehicles to ease transport challenges, uniforms, construction of better housing units, ” he said.
President Lungu revealed during his keynote address that 246 housing units have been constructed at Mukobeko correctional camp in Kabwe and 67 housing units at Kamfinsa correctional facility in Kitwe.
Others are 170 housing units at Mwembeshi correctional facility in Chilanga district and 30 housing units at Kitumba open air correctional farm in Mumbwa.
Additionally, government has constructed 70 housing units at Monze correctional centre and 28 housing units at Mumbwa correctional centre.
In addition government has constructed 62 housing units at Mkushi correctional centre and 49 housing units at Serenje correctional centre, among others.
Meanwhile, President Edgar Lungu says the operationalization of the two remand and correctional facilities at Mwembeshi will help decongest correctional facilities overcrowded by 200 percent in the country.
President Lungu notes that most correctional facilities in the country were built in the 1950s stating that they have a limited bed capacity and are no-longer habitable in line with the Mandela rules.
“For instance the Mukobeko Maximum correctional facility holds over 3,000 inmates yet it has a capacity of only 400. This is unacceptable,” he said.
President Lungu said that government continues to explore other valuable options of improving the lives of inmates.
“One of the interventions we continue to use is the presidential pardon. Using my powers, I have pardoned over 10, 000 inmates from the time I took office, ” He said.
The Head of State said this when he commissioned the two facilities at Mwembeshi remand and correctional centre that government initiated the construction of the correctional facilities to improve the welfare of inmates and decongest the facilities in the country.
He pointed out that the ultra-modern facilities have a total bed capacity of 3,300.
” There are also state of the art holding cells, ablution blocks, towers and a health facility, among others,” he said.
The country’s bed capacity among correctional facilities is 9,150 but are currently holding over 23, 000 inmates.
And Ministry of Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Masiye Banda commended government for changing the status of prisons to reformatory facilities which he said has improved the welfare of inmates.
Mr Banda said that President Lungu has proven that he has a heart for the most vulnerable in society by considering welfare of inmates from providing punitive services to that of reforming them.
He said the construction of the correction centre has changed the landscape the correctional facilities to reform inmates and integrate them into society.
Mr Banda said the Ministry of Home Affairs has benefitted from government development programmes saying the construction of housing units for the men and women in uniform, the construction of police stations and improvement of staffing levels.
And Zambia Correctional Service Commissioner Chisela Chileshe commended President Lungu for responding positively to the demands of modern correctional management which calls for the respect of inmate’s human rights as enshrined in the international and regional human rights conventions which Zambia is a party.