Botswana: The Regional African Correctional Services Association (ACSA) congregated in Gaborone recently with the intention of drawing the organization’s action plan for the next two years. The plan will serve as a blueprint that will guide the member states in the implementation of the ACSA Regional Strategy.
Delivering her first speech as ACSA Regional Vice Chairperson for Southern Africa, the Commissioner, Botswana Prison Service – Commissioner Dinah Marathe conveyed her gratitude to the Heads of Prisons/Correctional Services for making it to the meeting despite pressing work commitments in their respective Countries.
She said that is indicative of their dedication to fostering cooperation on regional matters pertaining to correctional transformation in a bid to keep abreast with international best practice.
Commissioner Marathe also took the opportunity to thank the Service Chiefs for entrusting her with the task of taking the lead in an endeavor to strengthen the Association for the next two years and lifting it to higher levels.
She highlighted that ACSA envisions to become the front runners and nucleus of Correctional, professional development on the African continent and one of the leading correctional development organization in the world. “This is a mammoth task. In order to achieve our intended goal, particularly as the SADC Region, we need to hit the ground running and work as a team. We need to begin at full speed to review our processes and programmes to ensure that we deliver the best services to our people within the Region,” she said.
She stated that her role as the Regional Chairperson will be to facilitate and at the same time engage the whole team to implement the Regional Plan. She therefore pleaded support as there will be a bit of shift in conducting business, in an effort to move with times and be at par with the ever changing technologies. She articulated that this will need a change of mindset and a belief that more can be done with less, in order to transform the respective Prisons/Correctional/Penitentiary Services in the Region.
The Chairperson highlighted that the 6th Biennial Conference of the African Correctional Services Association held in Dakar, Senegal in May discussed the state of ACSA and its Strategic direction. Some of the critical and relevant resolutions to the SADC Region includes improving the rehabilitation and reintegration processes through involvement of the community and other stakeholders to reduce re-offending, transforming the Services into more productive institutions to contribute to national development of respective countries among others.
The Chairperson indicated that the discourse in prisons management across the world is rapidly shifting from a more punitive approach to a correctional approach. This, she said, calls for review of the member states’s respective legislature and programmes to address the component of corrections.
She said it is therefore fundamental that they share and exchange expertise, knowledge, skills and research findings. “We also need to work together in promoting Human Resource Development as well as improving conditions of service for Correctional/Prison Services personnel,” she said.