China buys Zimbabwe prison
Zimbabwe"s controversial relationship with China has taken an amusing turn after the communist country bought Harare Central prison complex which houses more than 2000 families and over 4 000 inmates.
The Chinese company is set to convert the jail into a manufacturing plant.
The prison complex is made up of Harare Remand and Central prisons, a workshop, the commissioner’s mess and officers’ accommodation. Prison sources say a meeting was held last week in Harare to conclude the deal.
"The Chinese firm has offered to build a new prison at the notorious Chikurubi farm. Inmates at Harare Prison would be transferred to Chikurubi. This would be over a five-year period" said the source.
The name of the Chinese firm was not yet available and it was not immediately clear what business the company is involved in but it is said the firm has strong links with senior security officials.
A delegation comprising heads of Zimbabwe Prison Service has since toured the proposed new prison site to ascertain the suitability of the area.
It could not be established how much the Chinese firm paid or is going to pay for the relocation of Harare Central prison to Chikurubi.
"Work has started and all senior heads of departments were on Tuesday (last week) ordered to go and scout the suggested ground on which their Stations, Sections and Departments are to be erected at Chikurubi farm which is also Prisons’ property.
"We have also been ordered to put down our requirements for each department and forward them with immediate effect," added the source.
ZPS says the arrangement is a "win-win deal". But other senior ZPS officials argued that the decision to relocate Harare Central prison to Chikurubi could endanger the health of both prison staff and inmates because of dust and other emissions from the giant Lafarge Cement (formerly Circle Cement) plant near Chikurubi.