Dar es Salaam — President John Magufuli's directive to the new Prison Services Commissioner General, Phaustine Kasike, has ignited serious debate on social media.
Speaking during a ceremony to swear-in Mr Kasike and the deputy permanent secretary in the Vice President's Office (Environment and Union Affairs), Joseph Sokoine at the State House on Saturday, July 14, President Magufuli said prisoners should work hard to make the prison self-sufficient on various needs.
President Magufuli said prisoners were free labour that should be better used to make the prison self-sufficient in food, officers' houses and reduce over dependency from the central government.
Some social media users support the directive while others believe it is an infringement of inmates' rights. Posting on his Twitter handle at @Salimjr, Try Again writes: "The president wants prisoners to work and not to be denied their rights. Production activities are significant to prisoners instead of staying idle."
But, Ms Maria Sarungi Tsehai says the opposite:
"Don't get out of conscious. What did he mean by saying the lazy ones should be kicked out? Didn't you hear that? Stop defending evils," she writes on her @MariaSTsehai handle adding: "Torture and brutality to human beings wasn't about what the constitution says or what religions say. Going to church or mosque is nothing than a sin if you support torture against other human beings. Brutality should be criticized! #ChangeTanzania."
However, Try Again clarified. "Something we don't understand until we become part of it is that people can't work without threats, trust me. The central lines could hardly be constructed to Kigoma without strokes. Therefore, the president meant the boss type of leadership when he used the work kick them out. He did not mean the way people have perceived."
In support of Try Again was Tumainiel Maruwa:
"Maria, don't criticize unreasonably. Our prisons are not baby care centres. Even God has prisons for sinners..."