Candid Comment: Govt creating fertile ground for drugs

Tinashe Makichi

Zimbabwe's illicit substance use problem has increased dramatically during the Covid-19 pandemic and of particular concern has been the upward trend in drug/substance use among adolescents and youths.

Commonly used substances in Zimbabwe include glue, broncleer, Mangemba, cane spirit, marijuana, codeine and methamphetamine (crystal meth).

The issue of substance abuse has not been rampant in the past but the economic meltdown experienced since the turn of the millennium has created a fertile market for the drug movement. In the past, there was a ready job market for those that could have finished their ordinary levels or tertiary education. That means there was a job system that was ready to absorb the youth but that is no longer the case.

Universities of late have been churning out graduates who have no jobs and the majority of them end up finding comfort in consuming drugs.  Statistics show that several youths shortly after graduating quickly go into drug abuse due to a lack of what to do. The government instead of creating jobs is indirectly creating a market for drugs.

The lack of sporting facilities among the youth together with an increasingly deteriorating sports infrastructure in the country has relegated the majority of youth to drugs and substance abuse.

 The government has for years been ignoring the death of sporting activities among youth where discipline reigns supreme but rather a lot of effort has been deployed towards the music side of things. This gave birth to music galas that have also turned into a market for drugs.

Going forward the government needs to take a holistic approach in the fight against drug abuse. Arrests alone are not enough when the market is still there.

Recently a team of law enforcement agencies launched a campaign against drug peddlers across the country and several arrests were made but the fact that the market is there, drug peddling will remain in existence. The government must come up with initiatives to keep the youth busy while also putting more effort into the revival of the industrial and manufacturing sector. There is a need to create a platform that will absorb the youth.

The issue of drug and illicit substance abuse has also been affecting the elderly who in some instances found themselves out of jobs due to the deteriorating economic situation. Therefore, the only solution to the country’s drug problem is to revive the industry and create jobs.

It is said, “An idle mind is a devil’s workshop.”Research findings indicate that the prevalence of drug abuse is at 57% among young people and peer pressure, breakdown of the family support system, and limited knowledge about the effects of drug abuse and stress were identified as the major factors that drive substance and drug abuse among the youth. The criminalisation of drug and substance abuse continues to make it difficult for young people to seek help when they suffer from the effects of drug abuse.

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