COMMISSIONER of Prisons Percy Chato has defended the Zambia Prisons Service (ZPS) for ‘releasing’ incarcerated musician Clifford Dimba recently to perform during the International Women’s Day in Lusaka.
Following the performance by Dimba, better known as General Kanene, at Lusaka’s National Heroes Stadium on March 8, 2015, the Non-Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council said it is an insult and unacceptable that the musician was allowed out of prison.
Dimba’s `release’ has triggered wide debate including through letters to newspapers with some endorsing the decision and others saying he should be confined behind bars until he serves his 18-year sentence for defiling a 14-year-old girl.
Mr Chato, however, said yesterday that the Ministry of Gender and Child Development made a request to ZPS to allow Dimba to perform during International Women’s Day.
“The issue of performing at Heroes Stadium was a request made by the Ministry of Gender and we did not object. The singer sang a song called `Malamulo’ which is all about fighting crimes such as GBV and defilement. It is only that people are biased,” Mr Chato said.
Mr Chato wondered why Dimba and ZPS are being criticised because there is nothing odd about an inmate performing at a public event if he is not a threat to the public and the country.
Mr Chato said Dimba is not the only inmate to perform in public, saying there are groups of singers at Lusaka Central Prison and Chingola Prison Choir that record music and are invited to sing outside prison.
Mr Chato said it is not odd for prisoners to sing in public because in some countries such as South Africa, Swaziland and Mexico, they are invited to perform.
“Gen Kanene is just one prisoner, first and foremost, and what the singer is doing is to fight crime and defilement,” Mr Chato said.
He said society should give prisoners a second chance to change and look at reformation positively.
Dimba, who is confined to Lusaka Central Prison, popularly known as Chimbokaila, has appealed against his conviction and sentence to the Supreme Court.
CHAMBO NG’UNI, Kabwe