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18,000 Zimbabwe Prisoners Face Starvation

A senior official in the Ministry of Justice says Zimbabwean prisoners face starvation this year after treasury allocated $2.5 million for prisoners’ food rations instead of the requested $21 million.

The Ministry’s permanent secretary, Virginia Mabhiza, told the Justice and Parliamentary Affairs portfolio committee Wednesday that the money was not enough to feed 18,000 prisoners for 12 months.

Despite claims by Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa late last year that all was well in the prisons, Mabhiza appealed to the committee to lobby treasury to increase funding for food rations to ensure no prisoner dies of hunger.

Mabhiza said the department also requires farming inputs and equipment so that it can produce food on its farms and ease pressure on the fiscus.

Apart from food, Mabhiza said the country’s 46 prisons did not have adequate uniforms for prisoners, experienced water and transport shortages, among other problems.

Meanwhile, Media, Information and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary, George Charamba told parliament’s information committee that the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), which is in the process of licensing new radio stations, is severely underfunded.

He said BAZ requested $1.5 million but was only allocated $334,000 in Zimbabwe’s proposed 2014 national budget.

On the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Charamba said government had paid $4.6 million in outstanding salaries to workers, adding that those suspended will only be paid if their labour cases are finalized.

Charamba said suspended ZBC chief executive officer, Happison Muchechetere, who was earning a huge salary and hefty perks was not qualified for the job.

He said the ZBC had requested $76 million from treasury but got nothing and as a result, it has to retrench workers to manageable levels.