Saturday, April 26, 2014

Zimbabwe First Lady Calls for Prison Reforms
Republic of Zimbabwe First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe receiving gifts from
Congo-Brazzaville delegation at the International Trade Fair in Bulawayo.
April 26, 2014
Zimbabwe Herald
Bulawayo Bureau

The First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe has said it is unfair to jail mothers with their babies. Convicted female prisoners are routinely locked up with their young children unless they consent to leave their babies with relatives.

Now, the First Lady says “something must be done” to end the practice.

“I’m very worried about children who are born in prisons and forced to grow up there. This is not fair because it’s not their fault that their mothers are in prison.

“The environment is not conducive for young children,” she said during a tour of the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) stand at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair yesterday.

The First Lady who was accompanied by the Minister of Small to Medium Scale Enterprises Sithembiso Nyoni and joined by the Minister of Women Affairs Oppah Muchinguri, said Government should come up with a better solution for children whose mothers are incarcerated.

She added: “I think something should be done to make sure that children who are locked up with their mothers in prisons are taken to their mother’s relatives or where they can live decent lives.”

She said she has adopted both boys and girls from prisons, adding that the minors had literally been born and bred in prison.

“I want to take all of these children out of the prisons because they deserve to be raised in decent environments, just like other children,” said the First Lady, who runs an orphanage in Mazowe.

ZPCS officials told the First Lady that it was a challenge to separate children from their mothers as some imprisoned women preferred to stay with their children while in some circumstances relatives were not willing to accommodate them.

Cde Muchinguri assured Amai Mugabe that the problem she highlighted would be addressed as the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs was working on introducing a special open prison for female prisoners with children.

“The responsible Minister, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa told Cabinet recently that plans were underway to introduce special open prisons.

“These will be different from the normal prisons.

“They would be just correctional systems for women to engage in training while their children also go to school,” she said.

Marondera, Cde Muchinguri added, has been targeted as the area for the first open prison.

Amai Mugabe commended the ZPCS for its important role in society and praised them for the ZBC television show “Another Chance”, describing it as a good programme which she enjoys watching.

Other stands visited by the First Lady included the Grain Marketing Board, Cairns Foods Limited, Datlabs, Egyptian Tourist Authority, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and the Botswana Investment Trade Centre.

The First Lady also visited National University of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Women Affairs Gender and Community Development, Zimbabwe Republic Police Kuyedza, Alpha Omega Dairy, which is run by the First Family, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority as well as the Malawi and Mozambique stands.

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