HARARE – About a fifth of all prisoners in Zimbabwe were released on Thursday under a presidential amnesty a few months ahead of crunch general elections.
A total of 4270 inmates were let out, according to the country’s correctional service, which described the reprieve as a “noble gesture” by the president.
“We would like to appeal to… society at large to embrace and accept the inmates who have been released,” Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) said in a statement.
“Those aggrieved are encouraged to forgive them”.
The move brings down overcrowding in the country’s more than 50 detention centres, which have capacity for about 17 000 people but held more than 22 000 before the amnesty.
Yet, ZPCS spokesperson Meya Khanyezi told AFP “it was not about decongestion”.
“This was just a noble gesture by the president,” she said.
The amnesty was granted to various categories of prisoners including those who have served at least three-quarters of their sentence, or one tenth if over the age of 60.
Violent criminals as well as those serving time for robbery, treason and public order and security offences were excluded.
Those released will be able to vote in presidential and legislative elections that are to be held in August, although no date has been announced yet.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is struggling to ease entrenched poverty, end chronic power cuts and rein in inflation.
He granted a similar amnesty at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 in a bid to curtail the spread of the virus in detention facilities.- AFP
Chinese-funded power plant expansion project in Zimbabwe set for commissioning
Chinese firm Sinohydro undertook the project, adding 600 MW to Hwange Thermal Power Station, the country’s largest coal-fired power plant.
The project will be commissioned by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday.
Zhemu said at a press conference that recent media reports predicting a return to prolonged power cuts after August were false, as Zimbabwe is now guaranteed adequate power supplies in the short-to-medium term.
He said Unit 7 is already feeding into the grid after the successful completion of tests in June and is now commercially available for operation. Unit 8 is also undergoing a similar test and is expected to be available commercially by August or September this year.
“So there is no way that we are going back to the past where we used to experience long hours of load shedding,” Zhemu added.
Five die in Binga traffic accident
BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI
A Stallion Cruise bus overturned in Binga on Sunday morning killing five passengers on board, police have revealed.
According to witnesses, the bus which was travelling to Bulawayo was reportedly speeding when the accident happened.
National police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the bus overturned and landed on its roof in the Sikalenge area between Siabuwa and Binga centre.
“The ZRP confirms a fatal road traffic accident which occurred on 16/07/23 in the morning near Masumo Bridge, Samende area, Binga in which a Stallion Cruise bus travelling from Siabuwa to Binga overturned,” Nyathi said.
“The ZRP confirms that five people were killed whilst the number of injured is yet to be ascertained.”
The bus reportedly veered off the road at a sharp curve near the Masumu River bridge at around 7AM.
The accident comes barely a week after the same bus caught fire in Mutare on July 11 and all passengers escaped unharmed.
Zimbabwe declares its own load shedding over, but locals are sceptical
Zimbabwe’s government on Tuesday announced a sudden end of blackouts that have crippled businesses and left millions of households without electricity for up to 19 hours a day.
The information ministry said a cabinet meeting had “noted with satisfaction” that the power utility “has announced the end to load shedding as a result of the interventions implemented” by the government.
The statement did not give details of the steps taken to end the load shedding.
The southern African country has for years been reeling under severe power shortages.
They worsened late last year when the main electricity supply, a hydro plant at the giant Kariba Dam in the north, suffered very low water levels caused by recurring droughts.
In March the power utility company said it had launched a new 300MW coal-fired unit with Chinese finance in a bid to ease repeated power outages.
But Zimbabweans greeted the news of the end of outages with scepticism, as some said they were sitting in the dark as the announcement was made.
One Zimbabwean @sammie541 tweeted “funny (be)cause we actually don’t have…(electricity) now”, adding her Harare neighbourhood had been without power since Monday.
Other Zimbabweans questioned on Twitter if the announcement was not strategically timed ahead of national elections due next month.
The country goes to the polls on August 23 to elect a president and legislature.
Eighty-year-old President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced strongman ruler Robert Mugabe in 2017 after a military-led coup, is seeking re-election.
But he faces a disaffected population that is battling hyperinflation, poverty and high unemployment.
Official figures placed inflation at 175.8% in June, up from 86.5% in May, but Johns Hopkins University professor of applied economics Steve Hanke believes real inflation in Zimbabwe is more than 1 000%.
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