GOVERNMENT has identified a site for the construction of the country's first female open prison and is in the process of mobilising funds to kick-start the construction, a senior Government official has said.
The development follows recommendations that the current convectional incarceration system is not ideal as some inmates have to live with their babies in prison.
At the moment 69 babies are living with their mothers in prison.
Responding to journalists during a recent media tour of Harare Central Remand Prison recently, Commissioner of Prisons Retired Major General Paradzai Zimondi said the site had been identified in Marondera.
Rtd Maj Gen Zimondi lamented gaps resulting from shortages of finance in the department.
"Finances remain a major challenge, the service has partnered with the corporate world, religious and civic organisations, as well as individuals who felt the need to extend their generous hand to prisoners," said Rtd Maj Gen Zimondi.
"Some have since withdrawn their assistance while others are continuing to assist and this has alleviated challenges of feeding and clothing prisoners."
It is estimated that construction of the prison will cost close to US$700 000.
There are 16 315 people in the country's prisons.
Of these 587 are women.
The open prison system allows inmates with relatively light sentences to check in at the prisons, yet be free to visit their families during weekends.
In some instances, prisoners may be allowed to go back home every evening if they are able to report to the prison in the morning.
Male prisoners have an open prison at Connemara in the Midlands Province.