15 July 2018

Tanzania: Tougher Times Loom for Inmates After Magufuli Orders Their Use As Free Labour

Photo: Glenna Gordon
Behind bars (file photo).

Dar es Salaam — President John Magufuli criticised the Prisons Services Saturday for allowing inmates to "sleep" while the department has huge tracts of land across the country on which they can work and provide for themselves.

At the swearing-in of the new Commissioner General of Prisons Phaustine Kasike and deputy permanent secretary in the Vice President's (Union and Enviornment) Joseph Sokoine at State House, Dr Magufuli said he was shocked that with all the free labour it has, the Prisons Services still asked for budgetary support even on minor issues.

"You have huge tracts of land in Mbeya, which is idle but every now and again you ask for budgetary support to buy food," he said. "Prisons officers do not have enough houses and they have no idea how to construct them, and yet they have land where inmates can work on to make bricks."

The President, who did not hide his dissatisfaction with the administration of the Prisons Services, said he would not allow a situation where Prisons officers lacked accommodation while inmates slept in better places.

Citing a Sh10 billion he gave the Prisons Services in Ukonga last year, he expressed frustration at the lack of progress in efforts to address the plight of the officers. He said it was disappointing that the money had not been used to build houses, ostensibly because of laxity. He also queried why the department had not taken advantage of the tractors loan facility that the National Service offered to work on its farms and finance itself.

Cases of inmates using mobile phones, and enjoying conjugal rights must also stop, he said. He cited cases of some inmates communicating with relatives even outside the country.

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