Govt intensifies fight against drug abuse; sets up ‘spider web’ like committee

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By Reason Razao

GOVERNMENT has roped in various institutions across the country as part of a coordinated and intensified fight against drug and substance abuse.

This follows a scourge of drug and substance abuse across the country.

Minister of Information and Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa, during a post cabinet briefing, revealed that government has  approved proposed structures for the establishment of the National Committee on the Elimination of Drug and Substance abuse in the country.

“The nation is being informed that Cabinet is deeply concerned that the drug and substance abuse scourge in Zimbabwe has reached levels which are wreaking havoc in families and threatening the core of societal norms and values,” Mutsvangwa said.

“Most of the dangerous drugs and substances being abused are imported, with the traffickers acting in cahoots with local drug lords and an array of criminal elements in our society.

“Following Cabinet’s decision at its last Meeting to establish an institutional framework to decisively deal with the menace, Cabinet has decided to set up a National Committee on the Elimination of Drug and Substance Abuse,” she added.

The committee will come up with systematic and sustainable responses that will assist in curbing drug and substance abuse.

Mutsvangwa said the structures of the committee are going to start at the lowest tier and escalate issues from the bottom to the top.

The committee will use a framework which is divided into three distinct segments of search and rescue, rehabilitate, promote resilience and sustainability.

“At the community level, the committee will be chaired by traditional leaders and will include school heads, religious and faith based organisation leaders, social welfare workers, nurses in charge of rural clinics, village health workers, and other relevant persons at that level.”

At the district level, the committee will be chaired by development co-ordinators and supported by heads of chiefs, education officers, heads of religious and faith based organisations, social welfare officers, ZRP officers commanding districts, medical officers, chief executive officers of urban and rural councils, pharmacist representatives, youth development officers, and any other relevant persons at that level.

“At the Provincial Level, Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution will coordinate the activities of the Committee, with support from Secretaries for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Provincial Education Directors, the Provincial Joint Operations Command, Provincial Chiefs Councils, Provincial Medical Directors,” said Mutsvangwa.

Further at the Provincial level, the committee will consist of Provincial Leadership of the National Association of Secondary School Heads (NASH), and National Association of Primary School Heads (NAPH), Chief Executive Officers of Urban and Rural District Councils, Youth Development Officers, and any other persons relevant at that level.

At the national level, the National Committee will be chaired by the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs, deputised by the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage.

“The National Committee will co-ordinate the entire Clean-up Campaign on Drug and Substance Abuse, and will include all the Ministers currently serving on the outgoing Inter-Ministerial Task Force; the Attorney-General.

“Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution; and the Tripartite of the Chief Secretary, the Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Deputy Chief Secretaries, the Secretary to the Public Service Commission, and the Secretary for Finance and Economic Development.

“The Leadership of the Joint Operations Command; the President of the Chiefs Council and his Deputy; the Leadership of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches; the Zimbabwe Indigenous Christian  Churches Council: the Catholic Bishops Conference: and the Supreme Islamic Council of Zimbabwe,” she said.

The committee will also include the Academia Association of University Vice Chancellors, and other relevant representatives of appropriate organisations.

The said task force is currently being transformed into a National Technical Committee which will be chaired by the Secretary for Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare deputised by the Secretary for Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage.

“The Technical Committee membership will include the Secretary to the Public Service Commissions; Heads of the Ministries constituting the National Committee; Selected Thematic Working Group Chairpersons of the National Development Strategy 1.”

Other members of the Technical Committee will be Secretaries for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Head of the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe, Chief Executive Officers of Medical Aid Societies, Representatives of Health Councils, Selected Representatives of Pharmacists, Chief Executive Officers of selected State enterprises and parastatals, and representatives of Cross-Border Traders Associations.

Mutsvangwa added that the Leadership of Youth Associations, representatives of persons living with disabilities, provincial leadership of religious organisations and representatives of Civil Society Organisations will also feature in the Technical Committee.

“The Technical Committee will be co-ordinated by the Deputy Chief Secretary for Social Services in the Office of the President and Cabinet, in a manner akin to the current arrangements for the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.”