Vehicle hiring and other operational costs have landed the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) in a financial mess amid reports that the department is now struggling to settle a $21,6 million debt it owes to various service providers. The Government department, which falls under the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, claims it now has a depleted fleet, with the last batch of vehicles having been bought seven years ago. ZPCS now relies on hiring vehicles for use from the Central Mechanical Equipment Department (CMED) and other private car rental firms.
Briefing the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Retired Major-General Happyton Bonyongwe in Harare on Wednesday, ZPCS Commissioner-General Retired Major-General Paradzai Zimondi said out of the $21,6 million debt, $7,8 million was for hiring fees.
"Our outstanding bills to various suppliers of goods and services now add up to $21 656 187,60. The bill was carried forward from 2016. The department has, over the years, been relying on hired vehicles from the Central Mechanical Equipment Department (CMED) and other private service providers. The hiring exercise has since resulted in the service accruing a bill which now stands at $7,8 million, amid challenges in servicing the bill as a result of inadequate funding from the Treasury," reads part of the 15-page document.
ZPCS said Treasury was not releasing enough funds.
"For example, the department bid $224 496 600 in the 2018 financial year and was allocated $100 380 000, a figure that falls way behind the department's requirements. Given such limited funding, it therefore follows that budgetary constraints impact negatively on the department's operations in line with the execution of the Constitutional mandate," reads the document.