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line Home arrow Debates & Proceedings arrow Second Session of the Eleventh National Assembly arrow Debates- Thursday, 21st February, 2013 Tuesday, 29 July 2014  
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Debates- Thursday, 21st February, 2013 PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 28 February 2013
Article Index
Debates- Thursday, 21st February, 2013
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DAILY PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES FOR THE SECOND SESSION OF THE ELEVENTH ASSEMBLY
Thursday, 21st February, 2013

The House met at 1430 hours

[MR SPEAKER in the Chair]

NATIONAL ANTHEM

PRAYER

__________

ANNOUNCEMENT BY MR SPEAKER

COMPOSITION OF SESSIONAL COMMITTEES

Mr Speaker: I wish to inform the House that in accordance with the provisions of Standing Order No. 131, the Standing Orders Committee has made changes to the composition of some Sessional Committees, following the appointment of Hon. G. Monde, MP; Hon. D. Mwango, MP; and Hon. M. H. Malama, MP to Deputy Ministerial positions. The changes are as follows:

Standing Orders Committee

Mr R. I. Mpundu, MP, has been appointed to replace Hon. D. Mwango, MP

Committee on Government Assurances

Mr M. Habeenzu, MP, has been appointed to replace Hon. G. Monde, MP

Public Accounts Committee

Mr J. Zimba, MP, has been appointed to replace Hon. M. H. Malama, MP

Committee on Economic Affairs, Energy and Labour

Mr I. C. Bwalya, MP, has been appointed to replace Hon. D. Mwango, MP; and

Mr A. Sichula, MP, has been appointed to replace Hon. M. H. Malama, MP.

Thank you.

_________



MINISTERIAL STATEMENT

THE ALLEGED KILLING OF SIXTEEN PRISONERS AT MUKOBEKO MAXIMUM SECURITY PRISON

The Minister of Home Affairs (Mr E. C. Lungu): Mr Speaker, following the point of order raised by Kasempa Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) Member of Parliament, Hon. Kabinga Pande, in which he alleged that a total of sixteen prisoners at the Kabwe Maximum Security Prison were beaten to death by recruits after the escape of three condemned prisoners at that prison, I wish to inform the august House that the allegations are not only false, but also malicious because no prisoner had been beaten to death in the circumstance alleged, or any other for that matter.

Sir, the facts surrounding this issue are that, as a result of a regrettable incident of a jail break, which occurred on 13th February, 2013, in which three condemned prisoners, namely Bernard Kapaso, 41 years, Derrick Mwape, 29 years and Shadreck Phiri 32 years escaped from lawful custody, a special search was conducted in all sections of the prison.

Mr Speaker, the purpose of the search was to remove from the prison all prohibited articles and also establish if there were any further threats to the security of the prison.  Hon. Members, a prohibited article in the context of prison services and administration is any article not authorised in prison such as uncensored letters, mobile phones, offensive weapons and anything which can be deemed to be useful in aiding a prisoner’s escape or injuring another person. During the course of the search, it was discovered that the three escapees used a sharp instrument to cut the metal latch which fastens the door of the cells. That is how they eventually escaped from lawful custody.

Sir, the Prisons Act, Chapter 97 of the Laws of Zambia, under Rule 198, Sub-Sections 1, 2 and 3, empowers officers to conduct thorough searches on prisoners and the cells where they are confined so as to rid the cells and the prisoners of all prohibited and dangerous instruments such as knives and many other items which I have already talked about. This was done on the basis of the escape by the three prisoners.

Mr Speaker, based on the way the three condemned prisoners escaped from prison, officers conducted a search on the morning of 14th February, 2013. During the search, the officers were met with resistance from inmates. The inmates became unruly because they did not want to be searched and, in the process, they abducted one prison warder and held him hostage. They demanded that the search be discontinued as a condition for releasing the abducted officer. It was at this point that 300 recruits who are currently on training in Kabwe were brought in for reinforcement so as to rescue the hostage and also allow the search to continue in the other sections of the prison.

The officers in question were deployed as follows:

(a)    twenty prison warders inside the prison precinct were beefed up by 100 recruits; and

(b)    thirty police officers and 200 recruits were positioned outside the prisons to secure the prison premises.

Sir, the abducted officer was later rescued unharmed despite a lot of resistance from the inmates. Thereafter, the search continued in all the sections of the prison.

Mr Speaker, contrary to the statement made by Hon. Kabinga Pande that a total of 600 recruits were deployed inside the prison, only 300 recruits were involved in the operation. It is important to note that the population at Mukobeko is 1,980 of whom 366 are male-condemned prisoners. This gives the ratio of one prison warder to three prisoners.

Sir, the search yielded positive results. Various offensive items like screw drivers,  and knives, dagga and many other prohibited articles were recovered at the end of the search.

Mr Speaker, in his point of order, Hon. Kabinga Pande also asked the Government to clarify on the fifteen minutes given to condemned prisoners for them to do physical exercises.

Sir, the fifteen minutes given to prisoners for them to undertake physical exercises is in accordance with the provisions of the law. Prisoners sentenced to death are supposed to be kept in a cell during the day and night and are only supposed to do exercises twice in a day for fifteen minutes.

Mr Speaker, based on what I have informed this august House today, the deaths reported by Hon. Kabinga Pande are fictitious. I pray that the hon. Member of Parliament will kindly tell this House where he got that information from.

Mr Speaker, as hon. Members of Parliament, before we give any piece of information to the House, we have a duty to undertake thorough consultations with the intention of verifying facts. We should not raise issues based on rumours, gossip and falsehoods. It is regrettable that Hon. Kabinga Pande did not verify this story. To make matters worse, he went to the extent of tying false statistics to his unverified allegation. His statement was not only alarming, but also posed a threat to the security of the nation. It also demoralised the hardworking officers who conducted the operation in a very professional manner despite it being risky.

Sir, such alarming statements do not only send wrong signals to relatives of the people who are currently incarcerated at the prison facility, but also the nation at large, if not the entire outside world.

Mr Speaker, let me take advantage of this opportunity to inform this House that currently, the situation at Mukobeko Maximum Prison has returned to normal. In fact, this can be attested to by the fact that one of the hon. Deputy Ministers in the ministry went there the day after the incident and found that all was well. The security is tight. There is no death that occurred at the prison. All the prisoners are comfortable.

Sir, the Government has put in place adequate measures which will ensure that efficient and effective operations of the Zambia Police Service continue. Currently, we have reached an advanced stage in completing the construction of the new Mwembeshi Maximum Prison which is earmarked for opening in the first week of March, 2013. The opening of this prison, which has remained uncompleted since 1978, has been a priority of the Patriotic Front (PF) Government. The new prison will help us to address issues of congestion and poor sanitation at Mukobeko Maximum Prison and other facilities in the country.

Mr Speaker, we have realised that our prisons have been neglected for a long time to an extent where they are ill-equipped and, in some cases, completely run down. Therefore, this Government will soon procure modern equipment so as to ease the management of the prisons. Additionally, about 638 recruits will be passing out to beef up the current staffing levels. These recruits have had their training curriculum revised in conformity with the modern terms of the prison service, placing emphasis on correction rather than retribution.

Sir, all these measures outlined above show the determination of the PF Government in its quest to address issues of overcrowding and sanitation in prisons as well as inadequate staffing levels. The welfare of our prison officers is also included in this respect.

Mr Speaker, in conclusion, allow me to urge Hon. Pande to conduct his research thoroughly and make consultations so as to avoid issuing misleading statements to the House. I am sure the hon. Member could have easily consulted the area hon. Member of Parliament who could have given him valuable and credible information because he is most likely to have had a better understanding of the situation.

Further, I would like to request that Hon. Pande retracts his statement as it is not only unfounded, but also misleading and alarming. He should render an appropriate apology for misleading the House and the nation at large.

I thank you, Mr Speaker.

Interruptions

Hon. Government Member: He should step down as chairman.

Mr Speaker: Order!

Hon. Members are now free to ask questions on points of clarification on the ministerial statement made by the hon. Minister.

Mr Pande (Kasempa): Mr Speaker, first and foremost, I would like to appreciate the clarification which the hon. Minister has made to the House and the nation at large. Before I ask a follow-up question, I would like to indicate to the hon. Minister that in my point of order, if he followed it correctly, I said that what was being reported was an allegation. When an allegation is made, it is important for the Government to clear the air, just like it has done, in this instance, through the hon. Minister. The hon. Minister should appreciate the fact that my point of order has helped him to clear the air before this allegation spread across the country.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Pande: Mr Speaker, it is common practice for prisoners at Mukobeko Maximum Prison to be visited by their relatives but, since that incident, there has been a ban on visitations. What is the reason for this?

Mr E. C. Lungu: Mr Speaker, ordinarily, when there is an incident of such nature, soon after, measures are often put in place upon evaluating the security of the premises. To some extent, these measures are meant to discipline erring prisoners. The hon. Member may wish to know that the institution of prisons has its own regulations and rules, whereby anyone who is in breach can be punished in accordance with the rules therein.

I thank you, Sir.

Mr Mbulakulima: Mr Speaker, …

Mr Mwiimbu: On a point of order, Sir.

Mr Mbulakulima: Very good.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Speaker: A point of order is raised.

Mr Mwiimbu: Mr Speaker, I would like to raise a point of order, pursuant to Article 51 of the Constitution of Zambia and various precedents that have been made on the Floor of this House pertaining to issues that hinge on legality.

Mr Speaker, the Cabinet of the Republic of Zambia is collectively accountable to this House. Further, when hon. Members take oath, swearing before you, they swear to uphold the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia and the laws that are made therein. This Parliament passed a law entitled the Energy Regulation (Amendment) Act No. 23 of 2003. Section 2 of that Act states:

“The board shall consist of seven part-time members appointed by the Minister from among eminent persons who have adequate knowledge, experience and qualifications in:


(a)engineering;
(b)finance;
(c)natural resources management;
(d)electricity industry;
(e)petroleum industry; and
(f)administration.”

Mr Speaker, as a result of the power that is conferred on the hon. Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development, the hon. Minister decided to constitute a board for the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) which comprises not seven, but eleven members, contrary to the law. I would like to read, for the benefit of this House and the nation at large, the composition of that particular board. The chairperson is George Chabwera, Robinson Mwansa is the vice-chairperson and Evelyn Kangwa, who is a District Commissioner in Chinsali, is a board member. The other board members are Mubanga Musakanya, Judith Tembo, Johnstone Chikwanda, Mike Kabwe, Pastor Geoff Mwape, Ellyson W. Mulenga, Chief Kamponge Chewe and Kenneth Namutulo.

Hon. Opposition Members: Aah!

Mr Speaker: Order!

Mr Mwiimbu: Mr Speaker, that makes the composition of this particular board eleven, contrary to the provision of the law that provides for seven board members. The hon. Minister has appointed four members in excess of what the law provides and these members have been drawing allowances and other conditions of service from the ERB.

Mr Speaker, further, the Act states that a person shall not be appointed as a member of the board if that person:
 
(a)is undischarged bankrupt;

(b)has been convicted of an offence involving fraud or dishonesty;

(c)has been convicted of an offence under this Act or any other written law and sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than six months, without the option of a fine;

(d)is an office bearer or employee of any political party; or

(e)is the holder of a licence or has any interest in a licence or in a partnership or corporation that is a holder of a licence.

Mr Speaker, amongst these members, Mr Kenneth Namutulo is the Provincial Chairperson of the PF in the Western Province, …

Interruptions

Mr Mwiimbu: … contrary to the Laws of the Republic of Zambia, which this Parliament passed. The question that begs an answer is whether His Honour the Vice-President, as Leader of Government Business in this House, is in order to remain quiet on this matter and not advise the hon. Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development that the decision he made is illegal and ultravires and an affront to the laws we pass in this House. Are our colleagues, on your right, in order to continue abrogating the laws of this country with impunity without correcting this situation?

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Interruptions

Mr Speaker: Order!

These are the points of order that I have consistently stated …

Interruptions

Mr Speaker: Let me finish. I am in charge.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Speaker: These are points of order that ought to be – I am providing guidance – reduced in writing. I have said before, and repeatedly so, that I do not underestimate, by any measure, the importance of these issues, but I am looking at the efficiency of conducting business. By and large, these points of order are meant to hold the Executive to account. That is your function and you should not be shy about it.

However, reduce your questions in writing and we will duly process them and direct them to the appropriate ministries. There is no need for fanfare about it. Whether it is done quietly or in the full glare of cameras, the public, on radio and so on and so forth, the net effect is the same. Nonetheless, I will, accordingly, direct that the hon. Minister of Justice responds to these issues and would accord the House a statement, next week on Tuesday, 26th February, 2013. We would save time if you reduced these matters in writing. The effect is the same, whether it is dramatised or not.

Laughter

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


Mr Mbulakulima (Chembe): Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister has admitted, in his statement, that 300 law enforcement officers invaded Mukobeko Maximum Security Prison. Mr Dennis Liwewe, in one of his soccer running commentaries, once said, “When an African tells you he is thirty years old, add three years, bwana.” Even in this regard, when the Government says 300, multiply it by two.

Laughter

Mr Mbulakulima: Therefore, the 600 law enforcement officers mentioned is not farfetched. However, taking into account what the hon. Minister has said, whether there were 300 law enforcement officers, the situation was grave. There is no doubt about that because an officer was abducted. Is it not in your own interest to send the Human Rights Commission to verify this situation independently and tell the nation about its findings?

Mr E. C. Lungu: Mr Speaker, the Human Rights Commission exists under a totally independent mandate from the Zambia Prisons Service. Under the Human Rights Commission, the hon. Member of Parliament has the right to petition the institution to conduct an inquiry into this matter. I cannot stop him. Suffice to say that 300 recruits did not invade the prison because they are a part of the administration of the Zambia Prisons Service. The Zambia Prisons Service has authority to call upon its own to help maintain law and order.

Thank you, Sir.

Dr Musokotwane (Liuwa): Mr Speaker, the allegation made was a very serious one and, if I were the hon. Minister, I would have found it useful to have other people collaborate my story. In that regard, would the hon. Minister permit independent lawyers, including those representing prisoners, to verify the situation.

Mr E. C. Lungu: Mr Speaker, my statement is collaborated by the fact that my Deputy Minister, Hon. Mwamba, went there the very next day. I have also admitted, in answer to the question raised by Hon. Mbulakulima, that he is at liberty to go to the Human Rights Commission and petition them to go and inquire independently. By the same token, the hon. Member can involve the Law Association of Zambia or any other body he thinks will help get the truth if he is doubting the authenticity of my statement. Do not even come to me, but just go to the Zambia Prisons Service and they will allow you to carry out an inquiry.

Thank you, Sir.

Brig-Gen. Dr Chituwo (Mumbwa): My question has been overtaken by events.

 Mr Hamudulu (Siavonga): Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister has confirmed that, indeed, there is a ban on visitations to the prison. May I know whether this ban is meant to reduce entry of prohibited articles into the prison and how long it will remain in effect.

Mr E. C. Lungu: Mr Speaker, I appreciate that we speak English as a language we acquire in the course of our lives, but I did say that the prisoners earn their rights to certain privileges in a way. This is because I said there are regulations in the prison which are to be followed and, if a prisoner breaches these regulations, he earns a punishment or penalty. One of the punishments is suspension of visits, in case you did not know. So, if a prisoner misbehaves in jail, the prison authority has the power to stop visitations for a period they deem appropriate in order to put that prisoner in line. So, what has happened in Kabwe is twofold. Firstly, the service is trying to establish how this incident occurred and it has in place a body of inquiry which is going round at the moment. Secondly, some of the prisoners do not deserve the favours they have been getting. So, the prison authority wants to teach them a lesson so that they toe the line. That is the position.

I thank you, Sir.

Mr Speaker: How long will the ban last?

Mr E. C. Lungu: Sir, the ban will be determined by the outcome of the inquiry, which will soon be over.

Thank you, Sir.

Mr Miyanda (Mapatizya): Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister, in his statement, made it clear that during the operation, marijuana was confiscated. What is the value of the marijuana that was confiscated?

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Speaker: The hon. Minister should state the street value.

Mr E. C. Lungu: Mr Speaker, let me take advantage of this by letting this House know that we have presently stopped revealing the street value of any drugs recovered because it used to incite people into drug dealing. Otherwise, the drugs, which were confiscated have been surrendered to the Drug Enforcement Commission which is dealing with the matter.

I thank you, Sir.

Mr Mufalali (Senanga): Mr Speaker, when did you last inspect the prison to confiscate some of the prohibited instruments that were found?

Mr E. C. Lungu: Mr Speaker, I do not know whether the hon. Member is asking the hon. Minister when he last inspected the prison for prohibited instruments, but I would like to believe that this is a routine requirement and I cannot tell off-hand when last Mukobeko Maximum Security Prison was inspected.

Thank you, Sir.

Mr Sing’ombe (Dundumwezi): Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister indicated that prohibited items were found in the prison. What steps is the Government taking to ensure that such articles are not taken inside the prison?

Mr E. C. Lungu: Mr Speaker, the challenge that we have is that the prison warders are human beings and they also have their own frailties. What we have discovered is that, sometimes, prisoner warders tend to become lax because of being too familiar with the prison and prisoners, and that is normal human failure. However, I did state, in my statement, that we are trying to acquire high technique equipment to improve the security of our prisons apart from the routine searches that are conducted from time to time.

I thank you, Sir.

Mr Mwanza (Solwezi West): Mr Speaker, I heard the hon. Minister say that Hon. Pande should disclose the source of the information that was given to us. Why has he chosen to be personal on this issue?

Mr E. C. Lungu: Sir, I do not think that by demanding to know the source of information, I was being personal. I was just trying to help the hon. Member so that, probably, we can discuss with his sources of information and guard them against misleading the hon. Members because they are causing us embarrassment. That is all I meant. There is nothing personal.

Thank you, Sir.

Mr Ntundu (Gwembe): Mr Speaker, I would like to hear from the Minister of Home Affairs, Edgar Lungu …

Laughter

Mr Speaker: Order!

He is also honourable.

You can continue.

Mr Ntundu: Yes. Let him come out openly. He is aware that any item that is to be taken to the courts of law for questioning should be valued. Why is he hiding the street value of the marijuana that was confiscated?

Mr Speaker: The hon. Minister has already given an explanation for that. Let us follow these responses carefully. He made it very clear.

We now turn to Questions for Oral Answer.

 
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