Zimbabwe’s drug problem sparks public outcry

By Ndumiso Tshuma

A growing concern about drug and substance abuse in Zimbabwe has sparked calls for heightened awareness and a more robust response to combat the scourge.

Debating on the issue on This Morning on Asakhe, participants called on the government to step up efforts to address the matter.

“The current parliament lacks the appetite to create laws with strong penalties for drug offences,” said one participant. “Drugs are destroying individuals and society. To truly end drug abuse, parliament and local councils must create laws that prevent people from using and selling them.”

Another participant highlighted loopholes in the system, pointing out how individuals can obtain medical licenses to import drugs while potentially using them for illegal purposes.

“There are many loopholes,” the source explained. “Someone with a medical license to import medicine might be importing drugs instead. As a society, we can’t be afraid to report anything suspicious. In the end, it affects us all.”

Another participant advocated for the setting up of pre-rehabilitation centers for children and laws that effectively address the root causes of drug abuse, not just the users themselves.

“Arresting abusers isn’t the answer,” the source said. “We need pre-rehabilitation centers to educate young children before they start using drugs. We also need harsher penalties for drug dealers to deter others. Drug abuse is a critical national issue, and we need widespread awareness campaigns to address it.”

Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, the Chairperson of the National Committee on Drugs and Substance Abuse, presented alarming statistics at a recent church campaign against drug abuse in Harare where reported that a 2023 survey by Population Solutions for Health (PSH) revealed that 43% of young people in Harare and Bulawayo had used drugs at some point.

“Our youth and working-age population are most affected by drug and substance abuse,” Kashiri stated. “The PSH survey and global trends highlight the severity of this problem. Globally, drug abuse leads to 3.3 million deaths annually, with at least 15.3 million people suffering from drug use disorders.”

Kashiri announced the Cabinet’s approval of a National Action Plan for Drugs and Substance Abuse, to be launched by President Mnangagwa. This plan aims to coordinate and oversee the efforts of various stakeholders in tackling the issue.

“The guiding principles for establishing a Drug Enforcement Agency were approved,” Kashiri revealed. “This agency will be responsible for coordinating anti-drug abuse efforts. Additionally, the CID Drugs and Narcotics Unit has been decentralized to all ten provinces to reduce drug availability.”

The National Committee has also partnered with government hospitals to provide medical support for those struggling with substance abuse. They plan to supply medication and food provisions to rehabilitation centres.

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