By Sarah Busangabanye
Legislators have urged government to set up rehabilitation centres and hospitals countrywide to assist a surging population of unemployed youths now lost to drug abuse as a way of life.
In a motion moved in the Senate on Wednesday by Alice Dube, the lawmaker said they were disturbed by what she said was the excessive and prevalent abuse of drugs by Zimbabwean youths.
She also said drug abuse among youths was worsened by the high unemployment rate among youths who “consequently end up spending most of their time idle and end up resorting to taking all sorts of drugs”.
The legislator warned that such abuse of drugs had devastating consequences on our future generations and the nation as a whole.
“We therefore call upon the government to set up rehabilitation centres and hospitals to assist our youths who are addicted to drugs,” said Dube.
Dube cited claims by researchers in a 2019 study that 57% of the country’s youths was now addicted to drugs such as marijuana, cough mixtures and alcohol.
Senator Dube said when high on the substances, some of the youths become ill-mannered to a point of harming elders including their own parents.
“It is a very sad situation that these children are now attacking and harassing the elderly,” she said.
“We are now very much afraid of them especially the 12-year-olds going upwards. They are the most dangerous ones and they are raping even the elderly people.
“There is now chaos in the homes because parents and guardians can no longer reprimand these children.”
She said the envisaged rehabilitation centres should be manned by doctors and counsellors who would assist them recover drug addiction.
The lawmaker called on government to enact a law that puts stiffer penalties on those who sell the drugs.
Contributing to debate, Senator Mkwebu, who seconded the motion, urged the establishment of a board to look into the transmission of drugs in the country.
“The President saw it fit that a board be set up to look into drug abuse by these youths.
“There should be a board responsible for transmission of drugs and bringing down cases of drug abuse,” said Mkwebu.
In a State of the Nation Address (SONA) last October, President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised to put an end to rampant substance abuse in the country, adding, “this situation threatens the very core of our future as a country and cannot go unchecked”.