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Machakaire takes anti-drug abuse campaign to grassroots



DEPUTY minister of Youth, Sport and Recreation Tino Machakaire has taken the anti-drug abuse campaign, which the government has embraced together with civil society and community-based organisations, to communities grassroots levels in a bid to contain a problem decimating a whole generation of youths.


The government, through cabinet, has intensified the fight against drug abuse by establishing the National Committee on the Elimination of Drug and Substance Abuse chaired by Defence and War Veterans Affairs minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri.

Civil society groups and community-based organisations like Mubatirapamwe led by Savanna Madamombe and her sister Christina have been grappling with the problem for some time.

Machakaire, who is also MP for Wedza South constituency, as well as a renowned businessman, told the Johanne Marange Apostolic Church to join the fight by imparting information and knowledge on youths against drugs.

Speaking at a recent ground-breaking ceremony in Macheke where the church is constructing two schools, St Johns Primary and Secondary, Machakaire said drug abuse is a major threat to the youth who are demographically the majority in the country and constitute a huge part of the workforce, both formally and informally.

As a result, the drug menace is threat to the country’s socio-economic order itself.

“We have a serious challenge which is facing our nation today; that of drug abuse among our youths,” Machakaire said.

“I am happy that the body of Christ is helping vulnerable children in our communities. If these children do not have anything to do, they will indulge in drug abuse.

“Assisting children and giving them education, keeping them occupied will help them to be focused and to avoid destructive activities. I commend you Bethesda Apostolic Church for what you are doing for the children.”

 Machakaire said the church has an important role to play in fighting the drug problem.

 “Ndoda kukutendai mutumwa waMwari nedzidziso yamunoisa kuvana nedzidziso yamu[1]noisa matiri mhuri yenyu kuti zvinodhaka ndoz[1]viri kuuraya nyika yedu. Kuwanda kuri kuita zvikoro kunoita kuti vanhu vane vana vanoda kuwana zvekuita vauye kuzvikoro. Zvino ndi[1]nodaira chikoro chino (St John) hachitore vana vekwaMarange chete . . . Church yekwaMarange ndochurch yaitaurwa nepasiripo kuti ayewa vana vekwaMarange havaende kuchikoro asi nhasi tiri pano takaungana pane chishamiso chiri pano,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s illicit substance abuse problem has increased dramatically, especially during the recent global Covid-19 pandemic era. Of particular concern has been the upward trend in drug abuse among adolescents and youths.

 Commonly used substances in Zimbabwe include glue, bronclee, mangemba, cane sprit, marijuana, codeine and methamphetamine (crystal meth); mutoriro or dombo in Shona language.

Substances such as alcohol, marijuana and nicotine also are considered drugs.

Beyond illicit use of drugs, addiction is also increasingly become a problem. Drug addiction, also called substance use disorder, can be detrimental to people’s health, including affecting a person’s brain and behaviour.

Substance abuse has a number of damaging consequences for the human body. It interferes with and alters the functioning of the human brain, thereby creating health problems for the abuser. While the abuse of drugs straddles age groups, class, race and gender, the most vulnerable group are the youth.

Young drug abusers range from street children, school-going youth — who commonly abuse glue, alcohol and cigarettes — to young people in their late twenties and early thirties who also abuse more dangerous drugs.

There has been an increase in the number of women who use and inject drugs in Zimbabwe over the years owing to a myriad of factors, chief among them being unemployment, poverty among a host of other issues. Drug abuse has become a menace among youths in Zimbabwe, so dire is the situation that more than half of the youths’ population, approximately 57% in Zimbabwe are involved in drug abuse.

 The statistics on youth drug abuse in Zimbabwe increase yearly despite measures implemented by various stakeholders to fight the pandemic.

 In the past, substance use was a common feature among homeless children who engaged in this behaviour for various reasons, among them relieving stressful situations, boosting courage for engaging in criminal activities and as sedating substances to help them sleep.

 However, very high unemployment rates in Zimbabwe, coupled with poverty and despair, have resulted in increasing numbers of youthful citizens also turning to using drugs as a way of entertainment and escapism, seeking relief from problems and harsh realities.

 This has been exacerbated by the ready availability and affordability of these substances to adolescents and youths as they interact within their social circles.

The Covid-19 lockdowns may also have compounded the situation as youth, including those of school-going age, found themselves idle, with limited recreational activities, especially in high-density suburb settings.

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