Agency to fight drug abuse on the cards Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri

Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter

The establishment of a Zimbabwe Drug and Substance Abuse Agency has been approved by Government, with the scale of the problem of drug abuse seen as 6 148 suspected drug peddlers and end users have been arrested since the beginning of this year.

The proposed agency, that will have legal backing, is part of the Zimbabwe multi-sectoral drug and substance abuse plan for 2024-2030 approved yesterday by Cabinet.

The plan outlines a comprehensive strategic approach to address the escalating threat of drug and substance abuse to public health, economic growth, national security and social stability in the country.

Since January, 6 148 people have been arrested for drug-related offences, with 677 being suppliers and 5 471 end-users. A total of 106 illegal drug and substance trading bases were raided and destroyed in Harare, Shamva, Chinhoyi, Bindura, Bulawayo and Mutare.

Cabinet made it clear that suppliers of drugs had to be taken to court and could not be allowed to pay spot fines and released. Courts can impose higher fines and jail terms. With jail terms common for suppliers, a court conviction generates a permanent criminal record.

Government continues to intensify its response against drug and substance abuse across the country.

After yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Janfan Muswere said the principles for the enactment of the Zimbabwe Drug and Substance Agency Bill had been approved.

The Bill proposes an additional security service and specialised agency to combat and eliminate drug and sustance abuse. The agency will be responsible for the enforcement of laws that deal with drug and substance trafficking, use and abuse. It will also coordinate efforts of other support services.

“The prevalence of drug and substance abuse has become a global issue and Zimbabwe has not been spared,” said Minister Muswere. “Drug and substance abuse has become a threat to economic development, social harmony, health and wellbeing, public order and security.”

Cabinet approved the report by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Drug and Substance Abuse as presented by its chairperson, Defence Minister Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri.

In addition to arrests of drug dealers and users, 51 liquor outlets were charged for operating without licences, with 268 operators arrested and 17 outlets have had their licences cancelled for violating operating conditions.

The thrust for safe and approved medicines saw 311 inspections of medicine outlets and 62 different medications confiscated. “Awareness campaigns on drug and substance abuse are being accelerated, targeting adults, youths and children,” said the minister. “The decentralisation of the drug and narcotics department will be expedited. Cabinet also approved the review and updating of the fine structure of the organisation and directed that suppliers must be prosecuted through the courts and not through spot fines.”

The minister also said the Government will expedite the establishment of outpatient psycho-social support centres and parenting groups countrywide as well as the purchase of psychotropic medicines and food provisions for rehabilitation centres.

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