Analysis: BENEDICT TEMBO
AT THE pass out parade of 941 Zambia Correctional Service (ZCS) recruits at Nyango Staff Training School in Kaoma District, Western Province, President Edgar Lungu prodded the ZCS high command to ensure that the institution is transformed into a financially viable and self-sustaining.
President Lungu said ZCS should take advantage of the huge pool of skilled human resource and labour, it is endowed with.
He said this human resource and labour, if well utilised, would help reduce dependence on the treasury.
Apparently, ZCS high command has set resolutions, communicated to President Lungu on March 19, 2019 and the resolutions of its senior consultative meeting, which took place from January 14 to 18 2019 in Kabwe.
So, President Lungu merely reminded the Chisela Chileshe-led high command to ensure that they actualised resolutions that they had set for themselves.
Off course, there is no correctional body in the Southern African Development Community or indeed the whole continent which is financially self-sustaining.
But as Dr Chileshe admits, some have huge farms/industries/ ranches.
For ZCS to transform into a financially viable and self-sustaining entity, it needs the support of the treasury to convert the potential it has into reality.
Therefore, the Ministry of Finance should look favourably into the ZCS’s need for start-up capital in – milling plants and irrigation farms.
These two will make ZCS do wonders in:
ZCS is currently looking at maximising production at:
1. Mukuyu- Kabwe
2. Chitwi- Luanshya
3. Lubambala- Mpika
4. Namsanga- Serenje
5. Chondwe- Ndola
6. Kitumba- Mumbwa, though the two pivots shall be relocated to Monze very soon.
The four make 1,700 hectares of irrigational land.
Dr Chileshe says almost all the ZCS animals are Northern Province-bound, precisely Mungwi and Mporokoso districts, which have been identified for ranching.
ZCS is planning to set up a milling plant in Petauke in the Eastern Province where land is already secured. Petauke is one of the biggest maize producers in the region.
The milling plant, which will also house a vast storage facility, will be constructed under a public-private partnership.
The construction of the milling plant will not only contribute to industrialisation but also help to create the much-needed jobs and take the district towards self-sustenance in mealie meal production.
The milling plant which lies off the Boma Road, will be built close to an area where several maize storage facilities are being constructed.
Currently, ZCS has embarked on an ambitious farm expansion programme with funding by the World Bank under the Irrigation Development Support Programme (IDSP) for the installation of 21 centre pivots irrigation systems that would cover 1,440 hectares in four correctional service farms.
ZCS is also engaged in the Zambia – Egypt joint venture farms at Mwembeshi. Once in full capacity, these projects will contribute to national food security and financial viability.
Therefore, financial viability is very possible. ZCS may actually use people serving (inmates, including warders and wardresses) to give them various skills – welding, farming, carpentry, etc.
Equally, government (through the Industrial Development Corporation) needs to incorporate a company as a special purpose vehicle to run the economic activities such as road construction and building of infrastructure such as houses etc.
Given the number of correctional facilities countrywide, ZCS can start minting cash if the same warders and wardresses, including inmates, can be trained by the National Council for Construction.
Then the Road Development Agency (through government policy) can be sub-contracting ZCS on some road projects.
The ministries of Works and Supply and Education may also follow suit by giving some contracts to ZCS for construction and rehabilitation of government infrastructure.
I can safely say that if just 25 percent of what is being put in Zambia Airways were invested in governance structures, equipment and machinery economic activities for correctional services in as many areas as possible where there is an edge, the annual returns would be more than five-year returns that Zambia Airways shall achieve. In certain areas they can even go in with other investors.
The author is editorials editor at the Zambia Daily Mail.
Analysis: BENEDICT TEMBO