The jailbreak attempt by inmates at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in March last year was not politically-motivated as claimed by senior prison officials, but was spawned by food shortages, Parliament heard yesterday.
The Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services chaired by Buhera MP Ronald Muderedzwa, said evidence that the committee got from prison officers on the ground was more credible than that which they got from senior officers.
Muderedzwa was making a presentation of the committee on the jailbreak attempt at Chikurubi that occurred in March last year.
Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services Deputy Commissioner-General Aggrey Huggins Machingauta had told the committee that the jailbreak attempt was aimed at embarrassing President Mugabe, who was on an official visit to Japan.
“Your committee found some inconsistencies which had to be clarified,” said Muderedzwa.
“In this regard, your committee found the evidence given by the officers on the ground on the day of the incident more credible and substantiated.”
Another member of the committee, Buhera West MP Oliver Mandipaka (Zanu-PF) said they found no evidence linking the jailbreak attempt to politics.
“There was no evidence to show that the jailbreak was a result of politics,” he said.
We found that it was as a result of lack of food.
“It is important that Government improves conditions in prisons.”
Southerton MP Mr Gift Chimanikire (MDC-T), who is also a member of the same committee, concurred.
“We found that the main cause behind security breach was food or non-availability of it,” he said.
“No evidence that the attempted jail break was meant to embarrass the President. It was just an allegation.”
Tafara/Mabvuku MP Mr James Maridadi (MDC-T) said Dept Comm-Gen Machingauta must be charged for misleading Parliament by claiming that there was politics at hand during the attempted jail break.
He said senior Government officials, including Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, were misled that RMG End Time Message leader Robert Gumbura was the ringleader when in fact the issue was merely related to food.
Shamva South MP Joseph Mapiki (Zanu-PF) said there was need for Government to be innovative to feed inmates to avoid what happened at Chikurubi.
In his evidence when he appeared before the same committee last year, Dep Comm Machingauta said inmates had roped in members of the prison services, the police, the army and intelligence services to breach the country’s security.
He said according to their intelligence, the objective of the inmates was to attack senior Government officials once they made good their escape.