Take wholesome approach to address issues that affect youths today!
Statement on National Youth Day
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) joins the Zimbabwean nation in commemorating the Robert Mugabe National Youth Day. This year marks the fifth year of the commemorations, which honour the late former President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe, while focusing on the youth. The theme for this year is “Alleviating substance and drug abuse by the youth”.
ZimRights acknowledges the steps recently taken by government towards alleviating substance and drug abuse by the youths. Indeed, drug abuse has taken a toll on the country’s socio-economic well-being. The prevalence of drug abuse by youths in Zimbabwe stands at an alarming 57%. Because it affects people in their most productive years, drugs abuse is a cancer that needs to be stopped at all costs.
ZimRights, however, notes that alleviating substance and drug abuse among youth will require more than tokenistic approaches. The current substance and drug abuse is symptomatic of a broken-down socio-economic system in Zimbabwe. Rising urbanisation, without the corresponding industrialisation, has trapped youths in the vicious circle of unemployment, poverty, and drug addiction – as they seek to escape the harsh realities of Zimbabwean life. It is therefore, imperative that the government of Zimbabwe takes bold steps in alleviating the deep-seated poverty among Zimbabwean communities, as a way of alleviating drug and substance abuse. In addition, government should step up its political will in the fight against drug abuse by making sure drug lords and their cartels are brought to justice. Some of the suppliers are well known in their communities and government should not just concentrate on drug users but on drug suppliers.
While the nation agonises on the issue of substance and drug abuse by youths, ZimRights believes this day is also an opportunity to have a wholesome look at issues that are affecting youths in Zimbabwe. Youths should not be viewed as objects for political expediency. They should have meaningful spaces for participation and interaction opened up for them. Young people are not the leaders for tomorrow, but for today and they deserve a proactive role in deciding issues that affect their lives. It may be difficult, if not hypocritical, to address the problem of substance and drug abuse while on another hand the very youths are maligned, arrested and persecuted for exercising their constitutional rights, such as their freedom of assembly and of association.
As we reflect on this day ZimRights makes the following calls:
- That the law enforcement agents step up the efforts to combat substance and drug abuse, and ensure that the whole drug supply chain is destroyed and perpetrators brought to book.
- Youths in Zimbabwe should shun drug abuse and, demand and take up spaces for meaningful involvement in processes that affect their day to day lives.
- That the government of Zimbabwe take bold and deliberate steps to wholesomely address the challenges that face youths today, noting that drug and substance abuse may well be just a symptom of many underlying causes.
Issued by the ZimRights information Department