Mashudu Netsianda in LUPANE
Security is being tightened at the country’s ports of entry to plug the movement and proliferation of harmful drugs and substances in Zimbabwe, President Mnangagwa said yesterday.
Addressing thousands of youths drawn from the country’s 10 provinces during the National Youth Day celebrations at Lupane State University (LSU) in Matabeleland North Province, the President said he had directed police and other security arms to act decisively in flushing out drug syndicates and dismantling supply chains.
“No stone will be left unturned. Communities are urged to expose those who harbour drug peddlers and merchandisers. No one is above the law,” he said.
“Zimbabwe is not a drug and illegal substance producer or peddler and trends to do so will be expunged to defend our country and the youth who are our future.
“It is imperative that we scale up our national responses to the developing trends associated with the use and abuse of drugs.”
President Mnangagwa said to augment the ongoing efforts to fight drug abuse, a review of legislation and related policy measures on drug and substance abuse was receiving urgent attention.
He said it was disheartening to note that drug and substance abuse was one of the leading causes of crime, gang violence, dysfunctional families, injury and premature deaths of young people.
“At Government level, an inter-ministerial committee is scaling up the implementation of multi-pronged strategies in response to the drugs and substance abuse scourge. Authorities within learning institutions must ensure that systems are in place to mitigate against the use and peddling of drugs,” he said.
“Unruly behaviour related to drug and substance abuse must be dealt with decisively within our educational institutions.”
Part of the crowd following proceedings during the National Youth Day celebrations in Lupane. – Pictures: Eliah Saushoma.
The President said responsive and holistic strategies must be rolled out across sectors and societal levels in both public and private institutions, to harness the country’s youthful demographic dividend towards the realisation of Vision 2030.
Government is setting up specialised medical facilities to provide services to drug addicts and survivors of substance abuse while the Second Republic will continue to avail opportunities for youths to realise their full potential, President Mnangagwa said.
Drug abuse in Zimbabwe has been worsened by the fact that there are no rehabilitation centres and addicts are likely to relapse even after treatment at Ingutsheni Central Hospital in Bulawayo.
Zimbabwe is working towards a drug-free society through a drug master plan, which will help the country achieve Vision 2030.
The master plan aims at dealing with drug and substance abuse in society.
“To this end, my Government is setting up specialised medical facilities to provide service to drug addicts and survivors of substance abuse. Equally, greater focus is being given to strengthen the delivery of quality services in the mental health sub-sector and provision of related psycho-social support nets,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said the Second Republic will continue to avail opportunities for youths to realise their full potential in line with the devolution and decentralisation policy of ensuring that young people have access to quality social services such as education and health facilities.
“Here in Matabeleland North, the Hwange Teachers’ College and a vocational technical college in Binga are operational. Lupane State University is broadening the range of degree programmes in line with the emerging national and international trends,” he said.
The President said the ongoing construction of Lake Gwayi-Shangani, Bubi-Lupane Irrigation Scheme, the resuscitation of mining activities in Kamativi, as well as various new coal mining projects in Hwange entail more employment for the youth.
“I urge you, the youth, to ready yourself for the emerging economic prospects. All these projects in the province and across the country, coupled with the overall growth of the economy means that there will be no need for our young people to go to Egoli (South Africa) in search of employment,” he said.
“Young people are also urged to exploit the opportunities in the agriculture, mining, tourism and manufacturing value chains as well as in renewable energy sectors. You must not be spectators, think outside the box, innovate, collaborate and partner with each other.”
President Mnangagwa said the development philosophy “ilizwe lakhiwa, libuswa ngabaninilo/nyika inovakwa, inotongwa nevene vayo,” enjoins all citizens to unleash their collective wealth of energy, skills and competencies to accelerate the implementation of development projects and programmes that leave no one and no place behind.
“As your President, I want you as the youth to realise your full potential and to succeed. My Government ministries, departments and agencies are, therefore, ready to assist you,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said the theme of this year’s National Youth Day, “Drugs and substance abuse, a threat to Vision 2030; everyone’s responsibility”, highlights the need for a collective approach to end the scourge of drug and substance abuse.
“I applaud the format of this year’s event which includes blended panel discussions towards strengthening community-based initiatives and enriching our perspective on this emerging challenge,” he said.
“The involvement of our traditional leaders, communities, other stakeholders and the affected youth, is commendable and demonstrates the unity of purpose in tackling this menace. This is more critical and pertinent as the scourge has not spared any community, be it rural or urban.”
President Mnangagwa noted that sound morals, ethics and values anchored on the African philosophy of Ubuntu/Hunhu are essential foundations upon which the nation is founded.
Community leaders and institutions, including the church, should continue providing leadership and guidance to the youth, he said.
“Most importantly, the family both nucleus and extended must never abdicate its responsibilities to nurture young people to be upright and hardworking citizens. As the older generation, we must equally introspect and honestly address our societal shortcomings that may be contributing to this challenge, especially at the family level,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said during last year’s National Youth Day celebrations in Harare, the youth appealed to the Government to establish a fund to mitigate drug and substance abuse.
“As a listening administration, we heard your plea and established a fund towards rolling out operational pillars of the task force across all provinces.
“This should see us realise a drug and substance-free society, anchored by young people who are united, hardworking, enterprising and focused on building our motherland, Zimbabwe,” said President Mnangagwa.