By Lloyd Gumbo
MATOBO Senator Ms Sithembile Mlotshwa (MDC-T) says prisoners can go without food and clothing as long as they satisfy their sexual needs. She urged the Government to forgo clothes and food and provide “sex gadgets” in prisons to curb homosexuality.
She made the remarks when Justice and Legal Affairs Ministry officials appeared before the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Gender and Development on Monday. Mutoko Senator Jacob Edmond (Zanu-PF) was the acting chairperson of the committee.
“Considering that some of the same-sex orientation (homosexuality) come from prisons and when those people are out they then spread that orientation, what measures are you putting in place to make sure that vice is stopped?” Sen Mlotshwa asked Acting Secretary for Justice and Legal Affairs Mr Maxwell Ranga.
“In other countries they provide sex gadgets and they have also constructed rooms where people go and service themselves when the desire arises.” Mr Ranga said the ministry faced financial constraints which made it impossible to consider providing such gadgets.
“If I am struggling to feed and clothe the prisoners, then how can I ask for gadgets? There is therefore need to get rid of some of the rights because it is an incarceration.
“The money we get monthly isn’t enough to feed and clothe the prisoners. Improving the prison conditions will remain a dream if resources are not improved.
“For instance, we approach (the) Ministry of Finance requesting for US$20 000 to fumigate the prisons kuti tiuraye inda netsikidzi dzirimo, but we are told money is not there,” Mr Ranga said.
However, Sen Mlotshwa would have none of it, saying the ministry was trying to find an excuse for its failures. “We can’t say we don’t have money to feed and clothe prisoners because people can stay without food, but they want their sexual desires to be satisfied whether you like it or not.
“We can’t ignore and say we don’t have money so we won’t provide those gadgets. As the ministry, are you crying out loud so that the issues can be addressed?” Sen Mlotshwa queried.
She asked Mr Ranga if lack of resources also affected sentences meted out to offenders, saying it would be prudent for sentences to be reduced since Government could not provide some of the requirements. Mr Ranga said they were yet to hear of an African country that provided sex gadgets to inmates.
“We can’t rush into a certain activity, we will have to carry out a study to see the positives and negatives of providing such gadgets and also to see if it can be implementable,” Mr Ranga said.
Mr Ranga, appeared before the committee alongside officials from the Zimbabwe Prison Service. It is not the first time that Sen Mlotshwa has courted controversy.
Last year, she told fellow senators that the only avenue left to curb the spread of HIV among married people was by injecting husbands with an “immobiliser” to reduce their sexual desire.
Contributing to debate on the first report on HIV and Aids dealing with access to treatment in the Senate last year, Sen Mlotshwa said it was important to reduce men’s sexual appetite.
She urged the Thematic Committee on HIV and Aids and the Zimbabwe Parliamentarians against HIV and Aids to pursue the proposal.