‘Give youths jobs and not alcohol’

Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) executive director Itai Rusike has urged political parties in Zimbabwe to desist from plying young people with cheap alcohol and avail job opportunities as the country risks losing a generation due to mental health issues.

Rusike was speaking during a virtual media workshop on Monday on Covid-19 and mental health organised by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“The political parties should also desist from using the young people and abusing them by giving them cheap alcohol and at the end of the day when there are opportunities to occupy political office you then realize that young people are just used either for violence and so forth and there are no opportunities for them to occupy serious political offices.”

He added, “It’s also important that young people should also be seated on the table and making sure that their views, inputs are seriously considered because what we are now seeing is that the Country may lose the whole generation,” said Rusike. 

He said while Covid-19 may have exacerbated the situation of mental health in young people, there are serious fundamental issues that the country needs to address to ensure that the young generation is not lost to drug and alcohol abuse.

“As a country let us protect and guard this young generation or else, we are going to lose a generation because of this harmful product that our young people are taking like I said when we were growing up it was unheard of for a young person to commit suicide but nowadays it is becoming a common trend to hear of a 13-year-old, 11 year old having committed suicide,” said Rusike.

Rusike also noted that local authorities around the country no longer have functional recreational facilities.

“Unfortunately our local authorities have also taken away some of the support systems especially the recreation facilities, if you go to any local authority in Zimbabwe right now in Chitungwiza in particular, you would hardly find any open space for young people even to play soccer and any other social activities that can take away time for them to indulge in drugs,” he said.

“I am not sure how that can be dealt with because the space can no longer be created because all the open spaces have been filled by houses. I think it is important that other local authorities especially in Bulawayo where there is still order, let’s hope they will continue and not copy what is happening like in Harare.”

Rusike added that health facilities no longer have youth-friendly corners to deal with the challenges faced by young people.

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