Evelene Taadira — SEVENTY-SIX inmates, two of them female, are languishing in prison awaiting execution.
The State recently announced that the hangman's post had been filled. The post had no takers for 12 years.
Zimbabwe Prison Service Commissioner Retired General Paradzai Zimondi told journalists that the prisoners are awaiting execution despite the Government having appointed a hangman.
The journalists were on a media tour of Harare Central Remand Prisons yesterday.
"Indeed, we now have a hangman but these people are still to be executed. In fact, no one has been executed in the past 12 years," he said.
The new hangman, believed to be Malawian, ended an eight-year search mid last year, with a backlog of 71 people on his hands.
The waiting list has, however, increased in the past months.
Rtd Gen Zimondi said Zimbabwe's prisons were holding 16 902 inmates.
He said only 587 of these were women and 124 were juveniles.
The prisons chief said 69 babies were staying with their mothers in different prisons across Zimbabwe.
"Generally, we are not experiencing overcrowding since all our prisons have a combined holding capacity of 17 000.
"However, we are experiencing overcrowding mainly in remand prisons as people continue to commit crimes while those waiting for trial and sentencing are taking long to be convicted," he said.
Harare Central Remand Prison holds 611 inmates in its different sections, and 274 are foreigners.
Rtd Gen Zimondi said the Immigration Department, together with various embassies, were responsible footing the bills of those to be deported.
In the past, foreigners have languished in remand prison for years after failure to raise funds for air tickets to their home countries.
Rtd Gen Zimondi lamented financial constraints bedevilling ZPS, saying these were affecting efforts to carry out the mandate of incarcerating, rehabilitating and reintegrating offenders into society.
"Some of our infrastructure needs upgrading.
"It is disturbing to note that the service is failing to satisfactorily provide all these necessities mainly due to inadequate funding from the fiscus.
"It is not a secret that in the past decade that the country has experienced serious economic hardships that severely affected our operations," he said.
In an interview, Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs chief legal officer Mrs Priscilla Mbanga said delays in the trial of prisoners were as a result of flaws in the legal system.
"The delays in trial and conviction are a result of many reasons amongst them absenteeism of witnesses. In the meantime, the nation should know that judges have a code of conduct judging their activities and hence will react to situations professionally," she said.
There are 46 prisons in Zimbabwe.