Thousands at First Lady’s tourney against drugs in Bulawayo

The Chronicle

Tendai Rupapa in Bulawayo

THERE was pomp and funfair yesterday when thousands of youths and drug survivors from Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South provinces converged at White City Stadium in Bulawayo for the third leg of First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa’s Drug Survivors’ Sports Tournament as she leads efforts to curb drug abuse which has killed many young people and is still wreaking havoc.

The tournament was launched in Harare before it was taken to Kadoma in Mashonaland West Province, making Bulawayo the third stop.

The Prisons Band belted out heart-warming tunes as drum majorettes marched rhythmically to the beat during the colourful march from Mpopoma High School to White City Stadium.

Amai Mnangagwa led the march and was joined by Government Ministers, Ministers of State and other dignitaries who also took part in the march supporting the First Lady’s vision.

The crowd sang and danced as they marched denouncing drug and substance abuse with the First Lady blending with them and also starting songs backed by the crowd.

Drug survivors from the three provinces gave testimonies to the gathering which was also addressed by the First Lady, ministers and experts from various fields and the police who highlighted the various efforts they were undertaking to end the scourge.

Soccer legends like Tobias Mudyambanje, Douglas British Mloyi, Zenzo Moyo, Agent Sawu, Johannes “Signature” Ngodzo, Lawrence Phiri, Graham Ncube and Fiso Siziba were at hand to support the programme.

Thrilling soccer and netball matches lit up the programme with some drug survivors struggling to kick the ball while those seated in the terraces shouted “hwishuuu.”

The tournament also provided a platform for talent identification.

Iyasa drama and dance group perform a play depicting the effects of drug and substance abuse during a drug survivors sports tournament organised by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa for Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South provinces at White City Stadium in Bulawayo yesterday

Guests were kept on the edges of their seats with a brilliant performance from Iyasa which highlighted the effects of drug abuse in families and communities.

The First Lady said the programme had brought people together to celebrate, through sport, the young people in society who have survived the pitfalls of drug abuse.

“It is against this background that I would like to acknowledge all those who have contributed to the success of this programme and a special mention goes to Bulawayo Province our host of the drug survivors tournament backed by Matabeleland North and South provinces. I thank you all,” she said to rapturous applause.

The prevailing scourge of drug abuse, the First Lady said, had seen many youths, both boys and girls suffering from irreversible mental health problems.

“Indeed, drugs have robbed our communities of the vibrancy of the youths in community development, social cohesion and nation building. Under the influence of drugs and alcoholism crimes such as rape, theft and even armed robberies have been committed by youths leading to incarceration.

“It is, appropriate for us today to celebrate through sport those youths who have survived the negative impact of drugs and substance abuse.

“Sports, ladies and gentlemen, provide a platform for interaction among youths. It brings together youths from different backgrounds and experiences so that they can share ideas on how to overcome drug abuse and alcoholism,” she said.

Those still struggling to quit drugs and alcoholism, the First Lady said, can get inspiration from their counterparts who shared their testimonies after being victorious in fighting against drug and substance abuse.

The same fighting spirit that is inherent in sports tournaments, she said, should be used in fighting alcoholism and drug abuse.

“As a mother myself like every mother in the country, I am pained to see the girl child being wasted away by drugs and alcohol. It pains me to see the girl child being abused because she is under the spell of drugs. I am pained to see the girl child engage in prostitution in-order to satisfy the urge of drug addiction. I therefore, call for a strong support to my sporting initiative and indeed welcome all efforts that are directed towards empowering the girl and boy child so that they become stronger economically and mentally.

“A healthy body means a healthy mind as the saying goes. Sports as an empowerment initiative, also provides an opportunity for youths and the girl child in particular to showcase their talents and gain self-esteem which is critical in decision making. It can be used also as a springboard for economic emancipation as it has become a rewarding occupation for those who are focused, talented and disciplined. Indeed, the current Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Honourable Kirsty Coventry is a living example and should serve as an inspiration to the girl child,” the First Lady said.

Dr Mnangagwa decried the prevalence of unwanted pregnancies and early marriages in communities.

“Issues of unwanted pregnancies and early marriages are rampant in our communities and drugs and substance abuse have contributed immensely to the increase in these cases. Let us, therefore, promote sports as it keeps our youths away from the evils of drug and help develop responsible citizens who are mentally and physically fit to be future leaders continuing to work for an upper middle-income society by 2030 and beyond.

“I would like to urge you, survivors of drug and substance abuse to inspire those still bound to addiction as you mix and mingle at this sports tournament and in the community at large,” she said.

The First Lady said she would continue to initiate more sports gatherings regularly and preach the gospel of abstinence and other social ills as well as health related issues.

“As we speak there is yet another sports fest going by the title “The first lady’s sports and wellness programme” building momentum in Mashonaland East and will be launched soon. This will include the elderly, young couples and those with disabilities.

Conclusively let me say information is powerful, share it in-order to empower others and create awareness about the dangers drug and substance abuse,” she said.

Bulawayo Metropolitan Province Minister Judith Ncube saluted the First Lady for her efforts to fight drug abuse which was rearing an ugly head in communities.

“The scourge is damaging our children mentally, psychologically and biologically with each passing day because of attitude. Amai, as the health ambassador you are working hard to take good care of your children and to protect them from the enemy called drugs. Increase in drug abuse means increase in crime. Let us say no to drugs. Drugs kill and destroy futures. Thank you Amai for your vision and educative programmes. We assure you that this drive will leave no one and no place behind. Thank you for having the youths at heart,” she said.

Deputy Minister of Youth, Sport and Recreation Tino Machakaire reinforced the need to tap into the First Lady’s wise counsel.

“It is very important to us as young people to make sure that we support your programmes. We are losing a lot of our young people, our future leaders because of these drugs so Amai keep up the good work that you are doing for this nation. If you look at it, the crime rate has increased because of these drugs. I just wish and hope that through these initiatives Amai we are also going to make sure that we work hand in hand with the ministry of home affairs to make sure that even the drug lords, people that are supplying drugs are brought to book,” he said.

The Deputy Minister assured the First Lady that his ministry would support all the programmes that she will be doing related to drugs that were making it difficult for people to sleep in their homes.

“We will continue backing you because we do not want to lose these children through drugs. If you look at the sports that you are bringing, they remove people from the urge to want to take drugs,” he said.

Cde Machakaire said the march had shown that the First Lady had great strength and had the youth at heart since he himself was feeling pain from marching a long distance.

Deputy Minister of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation Hon Tino Machakaire (right) participates in a race that kick-started the drug survivors sports tournament organised by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa for Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South provinces at White City Stadium in Bulawayo yesterday

Soccer legend Mr Tobias Mudyambanje spelt out the need for youths to stay away from drugs at all times.

“In my life I never smoked mbanje though my surname suggests I eat it, but I became a successful football player. Some youths think that taking drugs enhances their performance, but this is not so. To the youngsters I say quit mbanje and all other intoxicating substances. It won’t take you anywhere but kill you. I am old enough now, but I look like a teenager because of not taking drugs leading a clean, healthy life. As parents we have a role to play in seeing that our children are abstaining from drugs. Some parents are actually selling drugs to children, killing their future. Thank you Amai for this fight against drugs, as sports legends we are fully behind you,” he said.

Detective Constable Mudzimu spoke on drug supply reduction saying the police needed community assistance to arrest the challenge of drug abuse.

“We are encouraging raids on known drug lords, known drug suppliers. This can help us eradicate drugs. To succeed we are helped by parents, children and all of you gathered here. We encourage you to bring to us the information and we will do the rest. We are all police officers on our communities therefore let us all play a role in eradicating drug supply. Tell us of the social media groups that are being created for the supply of drugs so we can act. We have heard there are WhatsApp groups that are being used to supply drugs. Life has one chance, you make the right choice today and you have a better future tomorrow,” she said.

A representative from the department of Social Welfare said they worked with drug survivors and helped reintegrate them in society.

“We work with youngsters who quit drugs and reintegrate them in the society. We offer support and counselling for both the survivor and the family. We also support with projects so that the survivors are self-sufficient,” she said.

She thanked Amai Mnangagwa for taking the lead and pledged her department’s support towards the good cause.

Drug survivors gave accounts of what they were going through.

A teenage girl said, “I am from Bulilima in Matabeleland South and I would take alcohol and drugs after befriending people who were drug abusers. I would not listen to my parents because we thought we were doing good. Amai, the First Lady brought a programme through her Angel of Hope Foundation and asked us to have something to do so that we quit the drug way. She introduced us to a farming project and asked us to form groups and do sports where she supplied us with all the necessities. I had a child early because of drugs since we would sleep with anyone anywhere while intoxicated. The life of taking drugs is difficult and I urge other youngsters to quit and be focused youths,” said one of the survivors.

A survivor from Matabeleland North was thankful to the First Lady for her love.

“I no longer spend time doing drugs. I used to stay with my grandmother who counselled me, but I never listened. I would come home ndakabatwa ndoshaya musuwo wekupinda mumba kuti uripapi iwo uripo. I would beat my grandmother accusing her of selling the door yet it would be there. I would steal things from her and sell to get money for drugs. This is now a thing of the past as I am now under the wings of Angel of Hope Foundation.

The same was said by a survivor from Mat South who praised the First Lady for her benevolence.

“I left the streets because of the First Lady and her foundation. Were it not for her I think I would be dead by now. Many of my peers died in their sleep because of the abuse of drugs. Amai showed that she loves her children despite circumstances. I am going to school because of her love and I am in the school’s soccer team,” he said.

Junior President Mr Unathi Nyoni expressed gratitude to the First Lady for rolling out the sports tournament.

“We are very delighted for the opportunity that you have granted us as junior parliamentarians to be part of this programme and I would like to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation that you have run programmes for the youth and that are aimed for the youth of Zimbabwe. I would also like to appreciate your support for the youth for helping us to achieve the goals that we set for ourselves in harnessing and contributing to development in the country,” he said.

Female councillors were in attendance and thanked the First Lady for the programme saying they would help look after children in communities and prevent them from experimenting with drugs and keep Amai’s dream alive.

Angel of Hope-Harare soccer team vs Byo team game ended 1-0 in favour of Angel of Hope, with Tendai Nyamasoka scoring within the first five minutes.

Shimmer Mbewe thrilled the crowd after she challenged the boys in the second-half when she was drafted in as a substitute donning the number 9 jersey for the Angel of hope boys team. She matched the energy and gave the Bulawayo team a good run with some biting the dust.

In netball, Byo Province pummelled Matabeleland North Province 24-3 to claim the honours.

In the soccer senior teams, Matabeleland North edged Matabeleland South 1-nil.

In the last senior netball game of the tournament, Angel of Hope team condemned Matabeleland South to an 11-1 defeat to emerge victorious.

All players and match officials received medals while winning teams were presented with trophies in addition.

There was also a dancing competition where winners received gifts from Amai Mnangagwa.

Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo sang praises to the mother of the nation for the tournament which he said would end the inclination to resort to drug abuse.

“We want to thank you Your Excellency for the work that you are doing. You are not doing this only for Bulawayo Province but for all provinces. You are covering all provinces and never rest, we want to thank you. Our children are leaving drugs to play soccer and netball. Now that you keep them busy they are now happy and this is good for the communities because crime rate will also decrease. I want to thank you on behalf of Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South Provinces,” he said.

“Taombera maoko Mama, ndimi nyakubereka, nyakutumbura” the youths sang along to Enzo Ishall’s song as they thanked the First Lady for lifting them from the jaws of drug and substance abuse

Article Source: The Chronicle

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