Zim’s anti drugs campaign receives boost

Swedish ambassador to Zimbabwe, Per Lindgärde, said there was a need for joint efforts to combat rampant drug abuse

ZIMBABWE this week received a US$1,9 million boost from Sweden to oil the fight against drug and illegal substance abuse days after lawmakers took the government to task saying the vice was destroying the youths.

Swedish ambassador to Zimbabwe, Per Lindgärde, said there was a need for joint efforts to combat rampant drug abuse

“As the Swedish embassy, we are proud to be a part of an initiative that prioritises addressing the increasing challenge of drug and substance use in Zimbabwe,” Lindgärde said during the launch of “The Strength Is in You” anti-drug campaign in the capital on Thursday.

“I would like to recognise the efforts by the Government of Zimbabwe in creating a structured response towards drug and substance use which is led by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Drugs.”

“We acknowledge the task at hand; to reduce both the supply side and the demand side of illicit substances and drugs; the need to focus more specifically on prevention, treatment, and control – three equally strong pillars. Illicit drugs must continue to be ... illicit.”

According to available statistics, at least 50% of new admissions at Ingutsheni Mental Health Hospital in Bulawayo are drug abusers.

Statistics compiled in 2021 by the Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drugs Network revealed that 60% of psychiatric admissions countrywide are due to drug abuse. 

Last year, 17 youths from Entumbane were rushed to Ingutsheni Central hospital after overdosing on crystal methamphetamine (meth).

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has called for stiffer penalties against cartels behind the trade in illegal drugs and other harmful substances.

“Only recently it was reported that 17 young people were rushed to a local central hospital after overdosing on crystal meth,” Lindgärde said.

“Young people are finding solace in bases where they congregate with other mates, take drugs and engage in risky sexual behaviours. These young people are crying out for help, and we should all rally to support them.”

Lindgärde added: “The Strength Is In You” campaign, works with people with lived experiences to share their stories publicly on how they overcame drugs. The campaign will also collaborate with influencers who appeal to young people to encourage open dialogue and equip them with skills to resist drugs.”

The US$1,9m grant for the anti-drugs campaign is part of the Swedish embassy’s overall efforts to address negative practices within the society.

On Tuesday, legislators also took the government to task over rampant drug and substance abuse in the country.

Shamva South legislator Joseph Mapiku (Zanu PF) called on the government to establish rehabilitation centres nationwide to assist youths addicted to drugs.

“Legislate much stiffer penalties than before on individuals who are the sources of supply for those substances and drugs which give rise to incidents of this unwanted scourge of drugs in the country leading to this conundrum,” Mapiku said.

“Send to jail all repeat offenders without any option of fines; and, take all necessary measures to ensure that law enforcement agents bring to an abrupt halt, incidents of drug and substance abuse as a matter of urgency, put and agreed to.”

Youth Empowerment minister Tinoda Machakaire said his ministry was retooling youth vocational centres across the country and availing loans for their start-up projects to drive them away from drugs.

“Allow me to inform the House that we have the Empower Bank with provisions of loans to fund the youth projects and ensure empowerment of our youth,” Machakaire said.

“We also have the National Youth Service which we are going to rebrand and we are going to establish National Youth Service Centres in each and every province.

“We are working on the establishment of vocational training centres in each and every district to make sure that we train our youth with skills.”

In April last year, Cabinet established the National Committee on Drug and Substance Abuse to lead the fight against drug abuse.

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