Botswana draws lessons from ZPCS open prisons concept

By Fungai Jachi

The Prisons and Correctional Services Exchange Programme between Zimbabwe and Botswana is continuing, with the visiting Botswana delegation having taken its learning tours to various provinces.

The Botswana Prison Service team visited Mazowe Prison Farm this Friday to ascertain how the country has managed to implement income generating projects for inmates and ensuring food self-sufficiency in prisons.

“We are here to ensure that we cut the food ration bill of prisoners that our government gives us . I want to understand how my counterpart has been able to do it such that he has enough to feed inmates. We shall continue working together and strengthen our ties in everything that concerns prisons,” said Commissioner Dinah Marathe, Botswana Prison Service Commissioner.

The visit comes after the team had earlier toured the Marondera Female Open Prison on Thursday and Connemara Open Prison in Gweru this Saturday.

During all the tours, Botswana Prison Service Commissioner, Dinah Marathe, was accompanied by her Zimbabwean counterpart, Commissioner General Chihobvu, who is determined to fulfil the vision of the Second Republic to make prisons a better place.

“We have been given a mandate by His Excellency Cde ED Mnangagwa to make prisons real correctional facilities. We believe that people commit crimes due to various circumstances, some of which are indeed avoidable. What we intend to do as a service is to curtail a virtual cycle where one is always in and out of the prisons gates. This can only be achieved through equipping our prisoners with requisite skills that will ensure self-sustenance in future. We want to be the hub of skills development in the country. We anticipate to coming up with new ideas that will shape the prisons and correctional services in a huge way,” said Chihobvu.

The Botswana Prison Service and ZPCS are working on a joint strategy on training staff, rehabilitation and reintegration of inmates among other issues which will pave way for signing of an MOU by year end.

Zimbabwe is one of the few countries in the Southern region that have transformed the prisons to correctional facilities in line with the world’s best standards.