By Artwel Sithole
The recent visit by Vice President of Zimbabwe and Minister of Health and Child Care, Constantine Chiwenga to Checheche in Chipinge district has significantly boosted the ongoing fight against substance and drug abuse in the region.
During his visit, Vice President Chiwenga conferred at Checheche High School, emphasizing the urgent need for all stakeholders to unite in reducing the devastating impact of drug abuse among young people in the country.
The Platform for Youth and Community Development (PYCD), a community organization in the district, expressed optimism about the government of Zimbabwe’s commitment to tackling the issue of drug and substance abuse.
Judiciary statistics indicate that between January and April 2023, more than 600 individuals appeared before the courts, with over 50 percent (312) facing charges related to dealing in dangerous drugs. In Manicaland Province, out of the 68 cases before the courts, 29 have led to prosecution.
According to a research conducted by PYCD in May 2022, drug and substance abuse has become a major concern for parents and teachers, leading to an increase in criminal activities in the district.
The research shed light on the alarming fact that girls were surpassing boys in terms of drug consumption, a revelation that prompted the government of Zimbabwe to take action.
The Fitness and Wellness Sports Festival, held at Checheche from May 2nd to May 4th, 2023, with the theme “Curbing Drugs and Substance Abuse through Fitness and Wellness,” was a positive step in the right direction. The event received support from 18 government ministries and 30 community-based teams.
The community of Chipinge is now mobilized and ready to support advocacy efforts focused on fighting addiction through prevention, care, and rehabilitation.
Highlighting the correlation between the increased drug use and the rise in rape and early marriages, Rebecca Sigauke urgently called for the intervention of the Zimbabwean government.
She emphasized that the moral standards and values of rural communities were being violated by drug addicts, resulting in sexual misconduct that contributed to the alarming statistics of rape and child marriages.
Mai Musadaro Simango echoed the same sentiments and implored the government to fully implement its stance on drug abuse.
She shared her personal anguish about her son becoming a drug addict due to mukozodo, expressing how they had to secure their belongings because he would steal to fund his addiction.
“My son is now a drug addict because of mukozodo. At home we ensure that all items are in a closed space because the boy steals a lot so as to raise money for drugs,” she lamented
Cynthia Gwenzi, the PYCD Gender Wellness and Advocacy Officer, emphasized the organization’s leading role in condemning drug abuse.
Their research revealed a significant link between drug abuse and the escalating cases of gender-based violence.
“We have done a research to check the level of drug abuse in the district. We noticed that the rising cases of gender based violence were influenced by drug abuse,” said Gwenzi.
Allan Murozvi, one of the PYCD researchers, expressed concern over the lack of public rehabilitation centers in Manicaland, hindering efforts to address addiction and mental health issues among young people.
“The fight against drug and substance abuse requires collective effort and should leave no one behind and the state and all its institutions should prioritise in its budget and service delivery issues on how to arrest the scourge of drug and substance abuse in communities,” Allan Murozvi advised.
He advised that the fight against drug and substance abuse requires a collective effort, with the state and all relevant institutions prioritizing the allocation of resources and services to combat this scourge within communities.