The recent donation of assorted food items and cigarettes worth K50 000 to inmates at Mukobeko Maximum Prison by Ronald Imperial Tobacco Company Limited (RITC) as part of its corporate social responsibility is a welcome initiative. However, there is a questionable ‘love and care’ exhibited by donating cigarettes to people in confinement. Cigarettes, we all know, contain nicotine which makes people addicted. Donation of cigarettes and its eventual absence may compel some prisoners to crave for marijuana and other illegal intoxicating substances to be smuggled into prisons. This, ultimately, could breed untold and escalated levels of violence and practices of other inhuman vices within prisons. The government of PF under the able and caring leadership of his Excellency, President Edgar Chagwa Lungu welcomes a cocktail of material, spiritual and moral support to all correctional institutions dotted the length and breadth of our beautiful country from its patriotic and duty bound stakeholders as a noble way of assisting government in uplifting the dear lives of our beloved brothers and sisters. I doubt the donation of cigarette would be beneficial to our citizens in confinement. The donations could certainly not be through cigarettes as cigarette smoking is hazardous not only to the smokers themselves but the people inhaling the smoke too (including prison warders). Encouraging smoking could be detrimental to the general well-being of our incarnated brothers and sisters that are serving their sentences in prisons that are not only overcrowded but poorly ventilated not mentioning the high chances of gutting the correctional institutions too. Banning cigarette smoking in prisons would go a long way in curbing the prevalence of tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases in our prisons. This, I believe, can also assist in preventing our meagre national coffers from being depleted through importation of medicines to combat these ‘self-inflicted’ or ‘self-acquired’ ailments. Our imprisoned brothers and sisters are in dire need of healthy foodstuff, detergents, beddings, faith-based literature, skills, medicines, sports attire and gym equipment to keep them mentally, spiritually and physically sound. Prison envy or general stress can effectively and adequately be countered by encouraging the prisoners to read, exercise and live a happier and healthier life apart from horning their skills. I implore all well-wishers and future donors to our prisons to make donations that will not only add value to their lives but also enable them (prisoners) to come out of prisons as better and healthier citizens for easier integration into society. Norman Nyendwa,
IMMEDIATE PAST COUNCILLOR FOR ROMA WARD 17 AND CHIEF WHIP AT LUSAKA CITY COUNCIL.