Senators have noted with concern the increase of drug abuse by the youths who are on antiretroviral therapy (ART) resulting in some of them defaulting on treatment.
Speaking, Tuesday, in the Upper House on the motion on the prevalence of drug abuse by the youths, Senator Themba Mathuthu said dangerous drugs were being sold along the streets and in most cases, by known people.
“Madam President, most of these youths that are taking these drugs or ART medication end-up defaulting because they will not remember when to visit health facilities to collect their medicines. Also taking these drugs weakens their immune system,” said Senator Mathuthu.
He said swift action was necessary in addressing the scourge.
“The youth are the future leaders of tomorrow and we have to find ways and means to serve these young souls from going to hell alive. A broad strategy is needed to educate our people about the dangers of taking these drugs, for example, at churches, schools, and any gatherings,” said Mathuthu.
He said leaders should take the opportunity to talk about the effects of these drugs.
“There is a need for rehabilitation centres in every province as this is now a national problem. These drugs have destroyed the wellbeing of our children.”
He added: “I propose that our government must craft laws that can account for all those involved in selling these drugs. The culprits must be given stiff penalties.”
In addition, Senator Joseph Chirongoma said drug abuse is something that was not prevalent during the old days.
“Things like musombodiya and other illicit brews were never heard of. When you meet these young people, you will observe that they are in the world of their own,” said Chirongoma.
He said the youths were being rebellious and losing their values because of such drugs.
“I would like to implore the government and different arms of Government like Parliament, Senate and National Assembly so that we take this word to the people, that drugs are not right. For those who peddle drugs, we recommend that the government should prosecute them and they should be publicized so that people know where they come from and who they are so that we can understand how drugs are coming into the country and who is brewing such illicit substances,” said Chirongoma.
He added that those found partaking in illegal substances should be removed from society.
“This issue is a serious one and those who will be found partaking in illegal substances should be removed from society. They must be incarcerated and there should be punitive laws and fines so that they understand the nature of drugs. Those who sell drugs should also be investigated.”
Chirongoma said even teachers in schools should investigate cases of drug abuse and if they find such cases, then perpetrators should be punished.
“Whether there are gatherings or churches in different social groupings, they should take part in the fight against drug abuse because drugs are affecting our young people and the nation at large,” he said.
Senator Chirongoma added: “We need to stand up and speak with a strong voice so that this issue is addressed for the sake of posterity and the future of our children.
Wherever these drugs are coming from, provinces or urban areas, we need to be very vigilant so that our children are not seen to be involved in that,” he said.