By UK Correspondent & Agencies
Zimbabwe has long struggled with the problem of drug and substance abuse with experts noting that a deepening economic crisis and the attendant poverty and despair have resulted in increasing numbers of youths turning to using drugs as they find themselves idle with limited recreational activities.
The subjected has again dominated the news and social media this past week after an elite catholic-run Harare school expelled eight students for allegedly using drugs.
Anti-Zanu PF activists like @CdeNMaswerasei took to social media to name – without providing evidence – the alleged drug suppliers and runners, and claiming the leading dealers were linked to the ruling party and its leadership.
Businesswoman and socialite Zodwa Mkandla, Passion Java as well as Harare DJ Fantan were among those claimed to be the leading dealers and suppliers.
Mkandla, ex-partner of socialite Ginimbi who died when his Rolls Royce motor crashed in the capital back in 2020, was previously linked to drug dealing by Australia-based Susan Mutami.
However, Independent Norton Legislator Temba Mliswa leapt to Mkandla’s defence on Twitter, dismissing the allegations.
“It seems at times we hate ourselves as a people,” said Mliswa.
“We have serious issues of drug abuse & instead of fighting it, some have chosen to use that for cheap attacks against people like Zodwa Mkandla accusing her of peddling drugs and dangerous substances. How cheap is that really!
“Zodwa has been involved in issues of tourism for long and has done very well. She has been selling Zimbabwe to the wider global community and has done very well. She recently brought in Nigerian musician D’banj. Her work is in the public sphere.”
Mliswa continued; “Ultimately her business actions are vital for the country and we all benefit. Unfortunately some have chosen to accuse her of dealing in drugs which is very unfortunate and a lie. We may have issues with each other’s political orientations but we shouldn’t manufacture lies.
“Zodwa has done very well& should be celebrated not dragged down through lies about drugs. I may differ with people like Passion Java but in the instances where they do something that celebrates & upholds the country there is no need to be attritional and spiteful.
“We can’t all support the same politics or parties. Let’s leave room for logic and progress in all our differences. At the end of the day I know that when you do well, there will always be people jumping up with crazy stories.
“We must celebrate success. Those who have evidence should simply go the police instead of dragging someone down with fabrications.”
@CdeNMaswerasei however, hit back at Mliswa saying;
Dear @TembaMliswa: Usade kundinzwa Temba. Urikuda kuti ndiburitse here mafiles ake Zodwa uyu? Unozonyarira kupi? Vana varikuparara because of these people and you come here kuzotsvaga dzvene. Kana urikumuda nyenga neimwe nzira. Chero neako mafiles aripo. Ndatopedza newe so. https://t.co/6E7ZcBC8Iq
— Cde Never Maswerasei 🇳🇦 🇿🇼 (@CdeNMaswerasei) February 3, 2023
In the past, substance use was a common feature among homeless children who engaged in the 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.
Commonly used substances in Zimbabwe include glue, bronclee, mangemba, cane sprit, marijuana, codeine and methamphetamine (crystal meth).
Experts say porous borders have seen drugs such as bronclee (containing codeine) finding their way illegally into the country in huge volumes.
To further compound this, local production is now also rampant with drugs such as musombodia, a colourless highly intoxicating drink made from ethanol and emblements powder, which is being illegally manufactured and distributed throughout the country.