Prison recruits currently undergoing training at the prisons training school in Kabwe have complained of the unnecessary deductions called messing fees that they are being subjected to and have called on the home affairs ministry to intervene as they strongly suspect that this money is ending up in senior officers’ pockets.
And the mealie meal shortages and high prices has also affected barracks in Kabwe.
And Chindwin and Kohima barracks garrison stores have completely run out of mealie meal forcing soldiers to buy mealie meal outside the barracks at higher prices. The soldiers have also criticised the rationale by the PF government to scrap the mealie meal rations they were getting in the past.
The recruits at the training school who were getting their allowances on Friday said that after getting their pays, they were asked to go to the training centre for clearance, where they were made to pay between K1,000,000 and K1,350,000 which was not explained. “They are calling this as messing fees and we are asked to buy a lot of things from them (senior officers) in order to get favours during training, we don’t get any government receipts for the payments we make, hence the worry we have,” said a recruit who declined to be named.
The recruits were escorted to Paying banks in Kabwe (Zanaco and Finance Bank) as early as 07:00 hrs amid tight security by warders and were not allowed to talk to any journalists or take photos. an attempt by a Watchdog reporter to get a comment from one of the warders was met with ruthless resistance by the warder at finance Bank.
Three months ago, another group of about 50 recruits suffered a similar fate and after the scam was exposed, the authorities halted the deductions. when asked about the deductions a source from the Public relations unit denied the deductions but Prisons Public Relations Officer Doreen Ngoma comfirmed that the practice (messing fees deduction) has always been there but could not say why no official receipts were being issued neither could she disclose how that money was accounted for.
Ngoma said the money went to the training school for the upkeep of the recruits.
Meanwhile Kohima and Chindwin barracks garrisson stores have not been spared by the on going mealie meal shortage in Kabwe. the shortage has pushed the commodity to fetch for between K60,000 and K80,000 per 25 Kg bag of breakfast and between K50,000 and K60,000 for roller meal.
The soldiers have since complained that they have been tricked by the government by removing the mealie meal rations and pay them allowances which cannot now afford the commodity. “The money we get as mealie meal allowance is low, it can’t buy the stuff at K80,000 and now our families would starve,” said a soldier from Kohima barracks.