Officials loot prisoners health fund

Harare – A health fund established to meet the medical expenses of inmates has for the fifth year running been misused by Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) staff to pay for their own medical expenses, the Mail and Telegraph has learnt.
The revelations were made in a damning expose of the ZPCS accounts for the year ended December 31, 2017,  by the the auditor general (AG) Mildred Chiri.
“For the fifth year in succession, in violation of section 5.4 of the Fund’s Constitution which requires the Fund to meet medical expenses just for inmates only, the fund incurred medical expenses for employees of the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service totalling $80 003 (2015: $68 778) without treasury authority,” Chiri said in the report tabled in the National Assembly on October 31.
“Further to the above, the fund’s budget for medical supplies and services was exceeded by an amount of $77 166 that was incurred without treasury authority.”
Chiri said the risk of misuse of the inmates Health Fund by ZPCS was tantamount to abuse of the resources and may affect the ability of the Fund to deliver its mandate.
In its defence ZPCS maintained using the Fund was a life and death scenario.
“The allocation for medical expenses from the main Appropriation Account is not adequate, even for staff alone, hence the use of the Fund to finance emergency cases to save lives,” ZPCS said in the report.
Observers maintain access to health and medical facilities is a basic human right that must be protected by government which is responsible for prisoners’ welfare.
This comes as government is failing to provide medication in prisons and correctional facilities threatening the lives of many prisoners who suffer from various ailments.