Government will swoop on all corrupt and criminal elements despite some of them adopting modern and sophisticated ways of trying to evade arrest and milk the country’s resources, President Mnangagwa has said.
He made the remarks during a colourful ceremony yesterday where outgoing Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) Commissioner-General Major-General Paradzai Zimondi (Retired) handed over the reins to his successor, Moses Cyril Ngawaite Chihobvu, after 23 years at the helm.
The handover-takeover ceremony was held at ZPCS Ntabazinduna Training Depot, just outside Bulawayo.
Comm-Gen Chihobvu had been Acting Commissioner-General since Maj-Gen Zimondi (Rtd) went on three months pre-retirement leave in July.
In his address, President Mnangagwa said the Government would not rest until all corrupt elements were brought to justice.
He spelt the need for security services to be ahead of the curve by upgrading their skills to account for criminals, some of whom were now employing modern techniques to evade arrest.
“I would like to discourage all those who would want to undertake criminal activities. Crime does not pay and the long arm of the law will always catch up with you. Under the Second Republic, justice will be pursued without fear or favour. Criminals must never be fooled; they will reap what they sow.
“In view of the increasingly sophisticated nature of criminal activities and the changing profile of offenders, I challenge correctional officers to constantly upgrade their skill-set to better execute their roles and duties. Be wary of daring offenders who are even prepared to corrupt law officers. Refuse to be corrupted,” said the President.
He particularly exhorted ZPCS officers to remain vigilant.
“My Government has zero tolerance to corruption. As part of our country’s security services, I therefore urge you all to remain disciplined, to be transparent and professional when conducting your duties at all times. Your personal and work conduct should always be beyond reproach. Always act with the national interest in mind and never in a manner prejudicial to our country. The law will take its course on anyone found wanting.”
The President also paid tribute to Maj-Gen Zimondi (Rtd) for his dedicated and unwavering service to the country and Government.
During his tenure as ZPCS Commissioner-General, he actively championed the transformation of the Zimbabwe Prisons Services to the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services.
He also deliberately promoted gender balance within the rank and file of the ZPCS such that women were promoted to senior ranks, including to Deputy Commissioner-General level.
Maj-Gen Zimondi (Rtd) also spearheaded the introduction of a female open prison, which is currently under construction in Marondera.
It is regarded as the first of its kind in the Sadc region.
“As the Commissioner-General of the ZPCS, Maj-Gen Zimondi (Rtd) was responsible for providing leadership and guidance in the modernisation of our prisons and correctional management system. He rose to the occasion, transforming and reforming the prison system whose foundation was a discriminative and exclusion-based colonial system. General Zimondi spearheaded agriculture production and productivity within our correctional facilities towards effective offender rehabilitation and reintegration. I exhort officers to emulate his legacy of innovative thinking and proactive approaches to prison management concepts,” said President Mnangagwa.
He further encouraged Commissioner-General Chihobvu to take over from where his predecessor left off, particularly in reform programmes that are driven by Vision 2030, which is premised on creating a relatively prosperous society.
There was need, he added, to modernise the training curriculum of correctional officers in line with global best practice.
President Mnagagwa said: “All prison farms must be productive, producing food and imparting life skills to inmates. In line with our value of achieving development through our own resources, I encourage you to pursue construction projects to improve, upgrade and increase the general infrastructure in our correctional facilities. ZPCS must play its part in our quest for an improved quality of life of all our people no matter their circumstances.”
In his retirement speech, Maj-Gen Zimondi (Rtd) paid tribute to all institutions that had supported him during his tenure.
He also spoke against corruption.
“Corruption continues to wreak havoc in our communities, institutions and the nation at large. I urge correctional officers to shun corruption at all costs by standing steadfast in performing your duties with integrity, transparency and accountability, professionalism and discipline.”
He also made a commitment to continue provide advice, support and guidance whenever it was required.
In accepting his appointment as the substantive ZPCS head, Comm-Gen Chihobvu thanked President Mnangagwa for the trust he had shown in him and thanked his predecessor for his guidance over the years.
With the foundation and backbone that had been laid by Maj-Gen Zimondi (Rtd), he said, it was now possible to ensure ZPCS becomes the leading correctional service provider in the region and beyond by 2030.
“In order to pursue our goals, we must be creative and innovative, as well as looking into the future whilst safeguarding the goals brought about by those who served and sacrificed their lives before us. Remember, making mistakes during the implementation of initiatives is a learning curve, but repeating the same mistake is a sign of incompetence and inability to learn and adjust,” said Comm-Gen Chihobvu.
He becomes the second ZPCS Commissioner-General after the introduction of the rank in 2013.
Also present at the ceremony were Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, Minister of State for Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Richard Moyo, Minister of State for Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Judith Ncube, Minister of State for Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution Abednico Ncube, senior Government officials, members of the ZPCS, services chiefs and traditional leaders led by the president of the Chiefs Council, Chief Fortune Charumbira.