Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Saturday ordered that prisoners be made to work “day and night”, that conjugal visits be ended and that lazy inmates should be “kicked”.
The leader, who has come under fire from rights groups over his authoritarian leadership style and a crackdown on freedoms, was speaking at the inauguration of new prisons chief Faustine Martin Kasike.
“It is a shame for the country to continue to feed prisoners. All the prisons have fields, inmates must cultivate them,” he said.
“Some prison staff don’t have homes. Make the prisoners work, let them make bricks day and night. If they show laziness, kick them. You have labourers, and for free,” he added.
Magufuli also criticised prison staff for allowing prisoners to receive conjugal visits.
“A man is in prison, leaving his wife outside, and a prison official receives this woman and authorises the prisoner to do things he is not supposed to do during his detention. I don’t want to hear talk of that anymore,” he said.
He said the underemployment of prisoners encouraged drug use and homosexuality in prisons.
“I don’t want to hear about this. I want reforms in the management of prisons,” he said.
Magufuli has previously angered rights groups with his campaigns against homosexuality and calls to bar pregnant girls from schools.
Magufuli, nicknamed “bulldozer”, was elected in October 2015, having become hugely popular as a no-nonsense, corruption-busting man of the people.
However a poll by local advocacy group Twaweza showed this month his popularity had plunged from 96 percent at the beginning of his term to 55 percent.
The poll angered government, which has given Twaweza until Monday to explain itself over the study or face legal action.