Malawi government has announced plans to construct a new maximum prison at Chitedze in Lilongwe after concerns of overcrowding in prisons and degrading conditions.
Rumphi East MP, Kamlepo Kalua (People’s Party -PP) asked Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe and Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Atupele Muluzi why there has been no allocation of funds in the budget for new prisons to reduce inhuman overpopulation in jail.
“If you go to our police cells now, it is pathetic and being an experienced prisoner, Kabwerebwere, I know what it looks like in the police cells. So, I wanted to reason with the Minister.
“I know the Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, who also was once a prisoner, knows about the challenges facing prisons. He was rescued because he fell sick (High Blood Pressure) and he was taken to Mwaiwath.Let us look at it very seriously, because there are our colleagues who are still there,” said Kalua, one of the politicians who vigorously campaigned for multiparty democracy in the country.
In his response, Muluzi indicated that in the 2015/15 national budget, “ there is an amount for the construction of a maximum prison.”
He said: “The maximum prison will obviously be constructed at Chitedze, which is going to be a top class maximum security prison. There has been an allocation for that particular purpose, as well as an allocation for construction of additional prison cells and houses.”
Muluzi, however said resources may not necessarily be adequate and government will involve the private sector.
“We will be making a formal announcement in terms of Public Private Partnership arrangements, that will be under way to improve the current population which is around 13,000 against the population which obviously should be about 7,000 in terms of accommodation,” said Muluzi.
“So, this is something that government is taking very seriously and it will also entail that we meet our international obligations in terms of ensuring that we have adequate facilities for our prisons,” he added.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe informed the House that the construction of prison cells and staff houses has been allocated a figure of K300 million.
“ That is seed money that will enable them to construct these structures themselves,” he said.
Malawi Prisons Inspectorate chairperson Judge Kenan Manda is on record saying there is need to construct more jails to reduce overcrowding in prisons.
“It is important for more cells to be constructed to accommodate the growing number of prisoners, and in turn reduce the problem of overcrowding,” Manda said.
“The worthiness, dignity and the physical and mental integrity of every human being is the core of human existence and is inalienable. It cannot be taken away,” said Manda.
Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) chairperson Sophie Kalinde said conditions in the country’s prisons are still worse.
She however said government has improved on prisoners’ access to information, education and legal representation.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :