IN the quiet corners of Mvuma, in the Midlands province, where the golden sunlight meets the shadows of hidden struggles, a community is grappling with a pervasive issue that has seeped into the very fabric of its existence — drug abuse.
In recent years, Mvuma, which was once known for its close-knit neighbourhoods and vibrant culture, has found itself ensnared in the clutches of substance misuse, leaving many dreams shattered.
Mvuma is a small mining town in the Midlands which is located 192 kilometres south of Harare, along the Harare-Masvingo highway.
It is approximately 100km from Masvingo.
In this small town which was once famed for gold, silver and copper mining, drug peddlers have taken over and are terrorising the community, with many young people now abusing drugs due to high unemployment.
Young people who obstinately abuse substances experience an assortment of problems including academic difficulties, health complications and constant brushes with the juvenile justice system.
The most common drugs sold in Mvuma include crystal meth (mutoriro), zvimbwa and marijuana (mbanje).
Statistics compiled in 2021 by the Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network revealed that 60% of psychiatric admissions are due to drug abuse.
And 80% of these were aged between 16-25, including school girls. Bridget Chinyowa, resident of Mushayabvudzi area in Mvuma, narrated in an interview the heartbreaking story of her son who became a drug addict and dropped out of school.
“My son had a very bright future and he passed his ‘O’ Level with flying colours, but as we speak my heart breaks because he can sell anything so that he can buy drugs.
Last time he sold my phone for US$5 and he was arrested,” said Chinyowa.
She added that the law enforcement agents are not doing their duties diligently as they are failing to crackdown on known drug bases.
“These bases are well known and it’s business as usual. These people are only arrested for two days and the next day we see them. These people have destroyed the future of Mvuma,” she added.
Farai Maturire, a young man from Mvuma, said drug abuse is now a major challenge and urgent attention is needed so that young people’s lives are abetted.
“Drug abuse has caused a lot of harm in Mvuma and development has stopped. There was a lot of potential talent among youths, but these drugs have destroyed our community. We hope for healing and recovery,” said Maturure.
Meanwhile, the director of the Mvuma Residents’ Association, Sitshengisiwe Kalenge, has appealed for more awareness campaigns in partnership with the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to fight drug abuse.
“Police should impose stiffer penalties on both drug peddlers and drug users so that we restore our pride as Mvuma,” said Kalenge.