FORMER Zambia Correctional Services Commissioner General Percy Chato has called on the Ministry of Health to disclose the statistics regarding COVID-19 cases in correctional facilities.

And Chato who is also, UPND aspiring candidate for Bwacha Constituency says PF’s failure to sign the peace charter for political parties on Wednesday shows that the party is not committed to a peaceful campaign.

In an interview, Thursday, Chato said the nation needed to know how correctional facilities were coping amidst the third wave of the pandemic.

He said it was important for government to ensure that inmates that showed COVID-19 symptoms were quickly identified and separated since the correctional facilities were still congested.

“In prison management, we say ‘prison health is public health’. The health conditions in the health facilities also have a bearing on the health of a country and therefore it is imperative that the Ministry of Health reveals statistics regarding COVID cases in correctional facilities. It is for transparency’s sake and also to be used as an advocate to ensure that those services that are available in the community are also brought to the community [correctional facilities],” Chato said.

“We know that our prisons are still congested and therefore issues such as social distancing becomes impossible. So I think the best they need to do among other interventions is to ensure [that] those who show symptoms are quickly identified and separated in a bid to protect others.”

Chato further observed the need to restrict the movement of inmates due to the escalating cases of COVID-19 in communities.

“In prison management, one of the most important principles in ensuring that you provide adequate health services is the principle of equivalent care. For the authorities to effectively manage the third wave, they must ensure that all protocols that the people in communities are following should also apply in prisons. They need to restrict movement of prisoners, I think here in Kabwe we have seen some prisoners going out which I feel is not a healthy situation looking at the escalating levels of COVID-19 in our communities,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chato said PF’s failure to sign the peace charter on Wednesday shows that the party was not committed to a peaceful campaign.

“I think it is a sign that they are not committed to a peaceful campaign that is issue-based. It’s unfortunate that the ruling party can stay away from such an important undertaking which is a commitment for peace. I think if we commit to peace, it is a way of honouring the late first republican president Dr Kaunda who believes in peace, peaceful coexistence and peaceful development. They are truly sending a message that they are not committed to a campaign process,” he said.

Chato however, applauded his competitors in Bwacha Constituency for conducting issue-based campaigns without engaging in violence.

“So far so good, we are pushing our peaceful campaigns which are issue-based. We have a lot of issues to talk about here for example poor and inadequate service delivery by the current regime, as well as high unemployment levels among other challenges our people are facing in the communities. Our people still need agricultural services in the rural wards,” said Chato.

“We are conducting peaceful campaigns and we hope that it continues. We call upon all the political players to ensure that we drive the agenda of peace in honour of our founding president Dr Kaunda and the legacy is that we need to ensure that we sustain the peace not only for ourselves but for future generations and also promote the ‘One Zambia, One Nation’ motto where we are going to believe that in diversity, we have strength. The ‘One Zambia, One Nation’ motto has to be preserved and promoted. It’s an agenda we are going to promote and sustain once we kick them out of power so that our country can move forward.”