Mufumbwe PF member of parliament Steven Masumba says prison is hell.
Masumba said in an interview at Chimbokaila Prison, where he now stays following the High Court’s decision to uphold his 12-month sentence for obtaining pecuniary advantage, that the conditions were deplorable.
Masumba said Lusaka Central Prison was facing an imminent disease outbreak.
“[These] prisons were designed for black people by colonialists to punish them in every form… even the food and the manner you sleep should be punishment here. It is quite strenuous,” he said.
“There is a situation where you sleep… you put your legs over someone’s head while another is putting theirs on yours. When it comes to turning, you all agree what time to turn.
It is 01:00 hours, you turn to another direction, until morning. Where I am, we are more than 60 in a small thing of about five to six square metres. It is hell. With October like this, you find that you are all sweating. If we were going to be hammered with Ebola in this country, it would be big disaster here.”
Masumba said despite the conditions in prison, he was strong and a soldier who was unlike some political figures that would develope a stroke or hypertension, just upon being investigated.
“I am a very strong person, I have seen people, just over investigations, they have strokes,” Masumba said.
“Politics to me is not something that can come to end. You see in the military, when you are attacked and then you withdraw or you disengage, it does not mean that you have stopped.
Look, I am a young person that even today if I had gone for 10 years, I would still bounce back and I would still be young. Tell my supporters that I have not lost my life.”
Masumba said he would also make it without a political job.
“There have been a number of issues. I cannot perform my parliamentary functions and all those… the benefits and all the remuneration have been frozen. If I was just a nonentity, how was I going to be providing for my family in this situation? The next thing was, you would have seen me on the streets but I have concentrated on my little businesses and that’s what keeps me,” he said.
Masumba said he had communicated to the people of Mufumbwe his decision to withdraw from his position as member of parliament for that area.
“I have not talked to the party but the person that is affected is me. The ultimate thing to do is to give the people of Mufumbwe my feelings. Every time I am being convicted, I am not being convicted with the party. I am being convicted as Masumba,” he said.
Masumba said he understood the people of Mufumbwe loved him but he felt they had been punished for too long.
“From the magistrates’ court, they have been holding on and saying ‘as far as we are concerned, whatever it takes, we want you’,” he said.
Masumba said he could not predict which party the people of Mufumbwe would give their support to.
“When I look at the situation itself, obviously I had the hope that the High Court was going to overturn the magistrate’s decision because up to now, I don’t believe there is any offence I did. And this information is in the public domain. NIPA is on record itself saying, it is the one that gave that document to me. I did not cook that document,” he said.
“How other people came in and used this case to fight me, is something else. That is why I thought maybe people are interested in the position that I am holding. This is just a political war and unfortunately, this political war has involved people like ACC, the judiciary has also been used. It is beyond what I can see with my own eyes. It is a war full of insurgents.”
Masumba also castigated NIPA for what he termed its poor record management system of results.
And Masumba said his crying at court on Monday was mistaken for admission of guilt, stressing that it was his mother’s poor health he was worried about.
“She has been very sick and you would have seen her yesterday at courts. I just had to do a lot of massaging of the heart and told her all was well. As for me, I am able to endure. I understand this political war very well. I will not manage to start mentioning names. They are saying this case was committed in 2002. Why did they wait until I got in the political arena?” Masumba asked.
And Lusaka High Court judge Chalwe Mchenga yesterday refused to grant Masumba bail pending his appeal because his application for bail did not have grounds of appeal.
Judge Mchenga said Masumba’s application for bail was not successful because the notice of intention to appeal he filed did not have the grounds of appeal in determining whether there were exceptional circumstances.