Lack of parental supervision has been identified as the leading cause of immoral behaviour among teenagers in Bulawayo, following a spate of wild orgies characterised by alcohol binging, casual sex and drug abuse.
This had led to a rise in wild parties popularly known as vuzu parties which are frequented by teenagers.
This came out of an anti-vuzu parties meeting organised by the Bulawayo Residents Association (BPRA, Friday where various stakeholders raised concern that parents were no longer disciplining their children.
“How does a 13-year old child sleep out? This does not make sense. When we were growing up, we were not allowed to be outside after dark but nowadays, the parents are the ones who open the doors for their kids at 6 am and clean after their children. They say spare the rod and spoil the child,” fumed one participant.
Social activist Mbuso Fuzwayo concurred saying parents do not want to discipline their children.
“Let us go to our traditional family setup where everyone who is older than you are regarded as a guardian. Parents are entirely to blame,” he said
Participants highlighted that drug lords in the city are now targeting teenagers and the ones behind the vuzu parties.
“Parents are the ones who sell drugs to these children. The people who sell these drugs are mothers and fathers to some of these rowdy children,” said Fuzwayo.
“There are women in Entumbane who sell scones laced with Mbanje to primary school children. These people are old women. They are initiating primary school children to drugs.”
Participants also blamed parents in diaspora for sending money to their teenage children who will then use it to attend vuzus and buy drugs.
“Parents in the diaspora send a lot of money back home to their children who then use the money to buy drugs at vuzu parties. They are spoiling their children,” said another participant.
Priscilla Mac Isaac from the National Aids Council (NAC) encouraged parents to be responsible for their children as this behaviour could lead to deaths.
“These vuzus are dangerous and toxic. As NAC we once tried to go undercover and see what happens at these parties. Our staff member went disguised as a teenager and when they were at the door, everyone was required to remove all their clothes. Sex races are conducted there. They play games such as spin the bottle and girls have sexual intercourse with whoever, It is bad”
One of the nightspots accused of hosting Vuzu parties, The Vista distanced itself from allegations that it is allowing underage teenagers to patron the venue saying it as a strict security policy that bars under-aged persons.
The Vista’s entertainment manager Nkokhelo Khumalo said teenagers would be milling in pavements and are not allowed inside the club.
“The Vista is a pub and grill. During the day we sell food and drinks but after hours it is a no under 18 zone.
“All the rowdy behaviour by teenagers was done out of the Vista. The police came and arrested kids outside our premises. These kids wanted to get into the Vista but couldn’t, that is why they were outside,” clarified Khumalo.
Khumalo emphasised that there are strict security measures that hinder people who are underage from getting into the premises.
“We require IDs when someone wants to get into the Vista. We also hike prices when there are a lot of people outside. We also search everyone who enters for drugs.”