Drug and substance abuse declared a national disaster

GOVERNMENT has declared the drug and substance abuse menace a “national disaster” lamenting its baleful impacts, especially among the youths, prompting the adoption of swift mitigation measures including establishing reaction teams from the national to village level.

The prevalence of drug and substance abuse in communities has reached alarming levels, jeopardising not only the present but also the future. In response to this growing crisis, the Government is taking proactive steps.

Cabinet Ministers recently embarked on a tour of all 10 provinces to provide guidance on the formation and operation of provincial drug and substance abuse taskforces. This nationwide initiative is aimed at tackling the issue head-on.

“The Government has, therefore, declared a state of national disaster around drug and substance abuse and Cabinet has already set up a national committee to eliminate this abuse,” said Industry and Commerce Minister, Dr Sithembiso Nyoni, on Friday.

“There is an ugly scourge of drugs and substance abuse in our nation, our children are dying, and they are becoming insolent all because of this abuse. 

Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kachiri

“This has reached alarming proportions and if left unchecked it can cripple our nation and the people because you the young people are the building blocks, which President Mnangagwa will be referring to by building the country brick by brick, stone upon stone.”

The minister was delivering a keynote address during youth skills training and mini-graduation ceremony organised by the Community Foundation for the Western Region of Zimbabwe (CFWRZ) at Galaupole Training Centre under Chief Ndiweni in Bulilima District, Matabeleland South.

Over 200 youths completed the skills training programme in agri-business, drug and substance abuse awareness, climate change, as well as other life skills such as building self-esteem and financial discipline.

Dr Nyoni is a member of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Drugs and Substance Abuse Mitigation, which is chaired by the Minister of Defence, Oppah Muchinguri-Kachiri. She hailed the organisers of the skills training programme, especially for targeting the youth and empowering them with valuable life skills that will keep them away from the streets.

“One of the directives for this Inter-Ministerial Committee is that youth empowerment should be taken aggressively and also enhanced through skills training and running projects for self and household empowerment just like what has happened here,” said Dr Nyoni.

CFWRZ regional director Ms Sithabile Ndlovu said the trained youths would soon start a piggery project next month to help them generate income for self-sustenance. The whole idea is to economically empower Bulilima youths while also contributing to the economic development of the country towards the fulfilment of Vision 2030. 

Last week the Government revealed that 468 drug and substance abuse offenders had been arrested over the last few months. Of the total arrested 36 were suppliers who were referred to court, while 432 were drug users and consumers who paid fines. 

Raids were conducted during the period under review, drugs were confiscated and a total of four bases were destroyed in three provinces, two in Harare Metropolitan (Mbare and Epworth), one in Midlands (Gweru CBD), and one in Mashonaland West (Gwayagwaya Shopping Centre). 

The Liquor Licensing Board has also conducted alcohol outlets compliance inspections across the country in the cities, municipalities, towns, and rural areas where a total of 244 bottle stores, 197 bars, 90-night clubs, and 145 other outlets were monitored for compliance purposes.

Ministries of Primary and Secondary, Higher and Tertiary Education have also carried out drug and substance abuse awareness campaigns among learners while weekly awareness campaigns continue to be a priority.

Meanwhile, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church has also joined the fight against drug and substance abuse and on Friday the institution awarded certificates to community members who completed 40 hours of training on how to deal with drug and substance abuse.

The Regenerated Life Substance Abuse Community Education Programme, which consolidates efforts by the Government to fight the life-threatening drug and substance abuse was the brainchild of Mthulisi Mukwa Moyo, who was the programme director and principal trainer.

Learners were taken through the different types of illicit drugs and their effects, as well as how to deal with users of illicit drugs.

Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Judith Ncube, who was represented by Ebesta Lumelo, presided over the certification event, in which she gave a statistical outlook that revealed a grim picture of the adverse impact of drug abuse in society.

“You will all agree with me that drug and substance abuse is one of the evils that we are faced with as a people. Globally, more than 250 lives are lost to illicit drug use. 

Some of the drugs in Zimbabwe

“In Zimbabwe, according to the World Health Organisation, about 450 000 people have either a drug or alcohol use disorder. 

“Over 4 096 of young people admit to regular drinking and 15 percent admit to regular cannabis use. It is further estimated that approximately 60 percent of patients admitted in mental health institutions are there as a result of drug-related problems.”

These statistics clearly show the magnitude of the drug and substance abuse problem that the country is facing. Due to the socio-economic challenges facing some people, the minister said trauma and distress have led to the increase in illicit drug usage. 

“There is, therefore, a need for all of us to join hands and say ‘NO’ to this menace,” she said.

“We cannot stand by and watch when young promising lives are lost. We cannot keep quiet when families are being torn apart by this monster called drug and substance abuse. 

“We need to stand up and do something. I am therefore happy to see churches such as the Makokoba Seventh-day Adventist Church standing up against this monster.”

Minister Ncube said the results of drug and substance abuse go beyond the abuser as it leaves a terrible social cost at home, in the workplace, and in society at large.

The anti-drug and substance abuse programme also saw pupils from Methodist High School reciting poems denouncing the use of illegal substances. The SDA Church through its health department has been waging a war against illicit drugs and committed the month of May to campaign against the vice.

Chronicle

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