Malawi VP, Harry Mkandawire pledges K35m prison block

Malawi Vice President Khumbo Kachali and businessman Harry Mkandawire have pledged the construction a MK35 million jail block at Mzuzu Prison as one way of easing congestion at the penitentiary.

Kachali also donated a Plasma TV and a Cow to the inmates.

President Mrs Joyce Banda disclosed this during a service of worship held at Mzuzu Prison on Sunday. This was the President’s first visit as head of state since assuming office on April7, 2012.

On of the inmates presenting the problems to President Banda.-Photo by Lissa Vintula/Mana

“We all have the responsibility to assist inmates. We don’t mean that inmates should enjoy hotel type accommodation nor that they should sleep like goats. At least they should be able to sleep because prisons are meant for rehabilitation,” she said.

Construction of the proposed block meant to accommodate 250 inmates will start by next week, according to Mkandawire.

“We have just been shown the place where the block will be build and construction will resume once we sought a few issues with the contractor,” he said.

Mkandawire also said he is yet to discuss with Kachali on the ratio of the cost sharing.

The President’s visit follows a request by the General Secretary of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia, Reverend Levi Nyondo last Friday during an Interdenominational memorial prayer service for the 20th July 2011 victims held at the Mzuzu stadium.

Nyondo described Mzuzu Prison, built in 1952 and meant for 200 inmates but has 447, as the worst in the country.

JB passion

Speaking after the service President Banda said she has been passionate in visiting prisons even before she assumed the highest office in the land.

“But in the last three years I have not been able to do any visit because they could not permit me. I thank God I am now able to do what my heart has been yearning for. Now I can visit any prison, any time,” said Banda, who is also a member of Friends of Prisons of the Blantyre Synod.

She then appealed to Malawians to have the heart of assisting Prisoners saying anybody could be there depending on circumstances.

“You don’t know what may bring you to prison. A female inmate told that she killed a husband after pushing him following his incessant beatings each time he comes from a drinking spree. And now she is here for life,” Banda pointed out.

Presidential donation

The President then donated 500 blankets, 500 Kilogrammes of Sugar, 500 bans, 500 drinks, 500 packets of assorted items and 10 50kilogrammes bags of Rice and 10 50kilogrammes bags of sugar.

She directed that the materials be distributed on the spot and should not be stored.

“I will disappointed if I hear reports that inmates did not receive all things that have been donated here,” the President said.

Speaking earlier Minister of Home Affairs Uladi Mussa blamed previous governments for congestion being experienced in the country’s prisons saying they lacked concern.

Mussa said of the 32 Prisons inMalawi, 24 were built by the British and theMalawigovernment has only built eight more since 1964.

He also said his ministry is working towards improving Prisons’ diet saying many inmates look sick due to malnourishment.

Spiritual touch

Reverend Levi Nyondo, who spoke on behalf of all Churches in the northern region and Prisoners, touting himself as former Prisoner number 554 said being a prisoners does not mean that someone is inhuman or an animal.

“We are all children of God and deserve respect and dignity. Some of the inmates here are innocent but are here because they either failed to testify or give evidence. As Prisoners we will forever support your administration,” he said.

He then donated 32 loaves of bread and 20 Kilogrammes of sugar.

On of the inmates presenting the problems to President Banda.-Photo by Lissa Vintula/Mana
President Banda being told that congestion is one of the problems in Mzuzu prison-Photo by Lissa Vintula/Mana
President Banda having a brief chat with women inmates at Mzuzu prison-Photo by Lissa Vintula/Mana

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