Farai Dauramanzi Herald Reporter
Thousands of youths from the country’s 10 provinces yesterday gathered at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe Square in Harare to commemorate National Youth Day, running under the theme: “Alleviating substance and drug abuse by the youth”.
Guest of honour President Mnangagwa took the opportunity to launch the National Anti-Drug and Substance Abuse Campaign.
The event, which was also attended by students from tertiary institutions, opened at the City Sports Centre where the President launched the Presidential Youth Clean-Up Campaign before the programme moved to the RGM Square.
Upon arrival at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe Square, President Mnangagwa, accompanied by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and Zanu PF Second Secretary Cde Kembo Mohadi, first toured exhibitions that had been set-up by organisations which included CID Drugs and Narcotics, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe and the Environmental Management Agency.
President Mnangagwa then moved to the main venue and his entrance saw the thousands of youths present chanting the popular slogan “ED Pfee”.
The President responded by moving around the venue greeting the expectant youths who were showing eagerness to meet the country’s leader.
The official programme started with the introduction of Cabinet Ministers, as well as senior Government officials who were present.
In line with the theme of the commemorations, a major highlight of the event was when three youths who are former drug and substance abusers gave testimonials of their struggle to live free from drug and substance abuse.
Kumbirai Dhliwayo, a former alcoholic, narrated how he started drinking at the age of 13 until he managed to quit five years ago.
“I got to a point where I was sharing a pair of jeans with my cousin after we had sold all our clothes,” he said.
“So, when my cousin went out drinking, I had to be at home because I had nothing to put on and would only go out after he came back and gave me the pair of jeans so that I could also go out to drink.”
Dhliwayo revealed that he slept with more than 250 women during his days of alcoholism, a revelation which he said should help many others who might find themselves in a situation like the one he was in.
Another former drug and substance abuser, Kudakwashe Madzima from Mbare, also narrated his story.
“I started abusing bronclear, mbanje and musombodhiya in 2003, but the life I was living was not good as it ended up making my face and legs to swell,” he said. “I only managed to quit after I was admitted for two to three months in a drug rehabilitation centre in Polokwane, South Africa.”
Madzima urged members of society not to treat drug and substance abusers as outcasts, but help them so that they can be able to quit and live a normal life.
In his keynote address, President Mnangagwa said in order to combat the scourge of drug and substance abuse, Government had put in place an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Drug and Substance Abuse.
“Over and above this, a National Drug Abuse Fund has been established in the 2022 National Budget,” he said. “In addition, a multi-sectoral approach has been deployed by various stakeholders towards complementing Government efforts in the fight against drug and substance abuse by the youth.
“Ultimately, you as the youth must take responsibility to fight, resist and reject drug and substance abuse.”
After conclusion of the main programme, the youths were treated to entertainment from artisets who included South African Amapiano artist Young Stunna, Roki, DJ Fantan, Ras Caleb, Enzo Ishall and many other Zimdancehall artistes.