BY ARTWEL SITHOLE
A visit by the Vice President of Zimbabwe, Hon Dr Constantino Guvheya Dominic Nyikadzino Chiwenga at Checheche in Chipinge has boosted the fight against substance and drug abuse in Chipinge.
Dr Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care, descended onto Checheche to officially open the National Fitness and Wellness Festival that ran from May 02-04 this year. He also conferred a tennis court at Checheche High School and a male ward at St Peters Mission Hospital.
The Fitness and Wellness Festival ran under the theme, Curbing drugs and substance Abuse through fitness and wellness. The event was supported by 18 government ministries of government and 30 community-based teams.
Following the vice presidents presence in the district, a community actor, Platform for Youth and Community Development (PYCD) expressed hope that, there were encouraging indications by the Government of Zimbabwe to intercept the scourge of drug and substance abuse from disparaging the youth dividend.
Statistics from the courts reveal that between January to April 2023, more than 600 people had appeared before the judiciary with over 50 percent of them (312) having been confirmed that they have cases to answer for dealing in dangerous drugs. In Manicaland Province, 29 cases have led to prosecution out of 68 cases that are before the courts.
A research by PYCD which was published in May 2022 provided that drug and substance abuse was the new headache for parents and teachers, thereby accounting for the rising criminal activities in the district.
When this research by PYCD was published, many stakeholders woke up from slumber. The revelation that girls were upstaging boys in the uptake of drugs was unbelievable.
One resident, Rebecca Sigauke, commented that the sharp rise in rape and early marriages is directly linked to the increased uptake of drugs in the district.
“Hwana hudoko hwadzara mimba dzisina ana baba ngendaa yekumwa mukozodo tapota hedu hurumende ngaitidetserewo,” she pleaded.
Drug and substance abuse has also been linked to Gender Based Violence and increase in divorce cases.
A woman who preferred anonymity said each time her husband is drunk, she and her kids would have sleepless nights from his verbal abuse.
“It has become a norm that whenever my husband has taken Mukozodo substance, we will endure verbal abuse. In some instance, we end up seeking shelter at our neighbour’s homesteads,” she echoed.
She went further to say that her husband is now in the habit of stealing grains and chicken in exchange with mukozodo.
Mai Musadaro Simango echoed the same sentiments but went on to beg the government to fully implement its position on drug abuse.
“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.
PYCD Gender Wellness and Advocacy Officer, Ms Cynthia Gwenzi said that as an organization, they have taken a leading role in denouncing drug abuse.
“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,” she said.
One of the PYCD Researchers Allan Murozvi revealed that they are concerned with the fact that there are no public rehabilitation centres in Manicaland, which might be an inhibiting factor to deal with those young people who are battling addiction and mental health issues.
“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,” he advised.