By Shingirai Vambe
Increased crime rates, prostitution, drug and substance abuse are social ills that require a collective community approach to eradicate.
Government ministers, residents, schools, political parties as well as various key stakeholders were last week all invited by Norton Constituency Legislator Temba Mliswa to join the broad campaign against drug and substance abuse.
Over a thousand people including local students supported by their peers from Bulawayo gathered at Pakare Paye Conference Centre in support of the battle against drug abuse in the Norton community and nation at large.
To the disappointment of many, several influential people including government ministers who were expected to attend and speak during the event did not turn up to support this crucial fight which has severely impacted on the younger generation and the economy at large.
Allegedly snubbed on political grounds, it’s believed.
Political and media analyst, Alexander Rusero told the Post On Sunday Newspaper that, “It’s rather problematic and tricky even for moderates to be associated with meaningful programs that are developmental in nature for fear of being labeled sell outs or moles. The challenge we have in Zimbabwe is toxic binary characterization. It is an indicator of a fragile state and a serious lack of national consensus.”
“The ZANU PF under Mnangagwa has failed to rally a nation, something Mugabe partially did, during the Government of National Unity (GNU) with the MDC after a disputed and bloody poll in 2008 and the Unity Accord in 1987. You can’t successfully lead a nation in the absence of that capacity to rally it into some modicum of National Consensus,” added Rusero.
Political players who attended the event, could not freely associate or interact with members from other political parties present regardless of the fact that Mliswa had publicly said, “Let’s put out political differences aside”.
One Norton resident, Tafadzwa Chipeyo, said, “It is because Mliswa is an independent candidate thus a free spirit. He speaks what is right without being reprimanded by any superiors and as we get close to our general elections, party members wouldn’t want to interact with other political players for their safety.”
“We have a big problem in our country, we are not united. This is a good program that should unite all citizens but some ministers who were invited did not attend. It leaves a lot to be desired because it is these people in higher offices who are also said to be drug peddlers. We expected the ministers of Home Affairs and Labour and social welfare, respectively to speak and participate in this program”, added Chipeyo.
The Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC) member Joana Mamombe, attended the event, representing the Youth Caucus in Parliament and she was with Cecilia Chimbiri who also had an opportunity to speak during the event. Also present was Linda Masarira, representing her LEAD party.
In absentia, speech read on his behalf by the Minister of State, Mary Mliswa, Prof Paul Mavhima who is the chairperson of the drug and substance abuse Inter-Ministerial Taskforce said, “Globally, drug and substance abuse is associated with high crime rates, family and community disintegration, reduction in economic productivity, stigma and discrimination, mental health problems, HIV and Aids, Sexual Abuse, terrorism, human Trafficking, School dropouts and child marriages among other social ills which hold back social-economic development.”
The event ran under the theme, Siya Mutoriro Siya Guka meaning, desist from taking crystal myth desist from taking illicit drugs and beers.
Temba Mliswa started his campaign months ago when he walked into Parliament with a sample of an illicit beer and started the Siya Mutoriro, Siya Guka campaign.
The junior parliament (JP) was also there present and the Child President, His Excellency Unathi Nyoni said, “As JP we are still waiting for formalization to integrate towards dealing with all social ills in the country, engaging with our senior parliamentarians in all activities and events that help in fighting against Drug and Substance abuse.”
“Youths are affected by the way their parents are surviving and in some instances resulting in early child marriages. Our education system is also failing to give support during and after college and as a result many will resort to dropping out. Our submissions during the Pre-Budget Seminar was to have more funds across the board to help in various vocational programs and setting up of drug rehabilitation centers,” said Nyoni.
It was during the same event, at the Pre-Budget Seminar when Mamombe also highlighted that many who are being taken for rehabilitation are taken into cells where there are hardcore criminals while some women would be taken with their male children into the female cells which may negatively affect the behavior of a boy child when they view girls and women.
The Minister of State, Mary Mliswa said youths must participate in the programs and initiatives being spearheaded by the second republic speaking to the mantra of leaving no place and no one behind.
Various artists including Seh Calaz and Chipo, performed during the event and everyone enjoyed the proceedings from actors, drum majority and poets. Footballer, Alouis Bunjira was also in attendance supporting the cause under the theme siya guka siya mutoriro.
Temba Mliswa being the Chairperson of African Parliament Against Corruption (APNAC) said it is through corruption that we find drugs in the corridors and and streets of Zimbabwe, and that he would continue to fight corruption as an MP and as a citizen of Zimbabwe.