Our National Youth Day statement

Students And Youth Working on reproductive Health Action Team (SAYWHAT) joins the rest of the nation in commemorating the 6th edition of National Youth Day celebrated under the theme: Drug and substance abuse: A threat to vision 2030, every community has a responsibility.


The theme overtly calls for every community and its members to play a role in stopping drug and substance abuse menace particularly among the youth. The drug and substance scourge has taken the country by storm and can potentially destroy the lives of our young people if it is not arrested in time.  

The National Youth Day is observed as an acknowledgement of the government’s drastic education revolution that saw thousands and thousands of youths enrolling into different educational programs soon after independence under the education for all policy. This stands out as one of Zimbabwe’s legacies which massively raised the country’s literacy rate by over 90 percent in the late 1990s.


Zimbabwe’s education system became a source of pride for its citizens and was envied by many other African countries across the continent. Alongside the education for all policy, the government introduced various youth empowerment programs and initiatives in a bid to improve the lives of the youth in Zimbabwe.


The education legacy must therefore be furthered by providing more educational infrastructure slanted towards rural and farming communities at all levels of primary, secondary and tertiary education. The contemporary educational services must be relevant to the current needs of learners including providing them with necessary life skills to prevent them from drug and substance abuse as well as risky sexual behaviors.  


Access to education by young people is therefore not only key to win the fight against drug and substance abuse problem but also to end the prevalence of HIV and AIDS among other widespread types of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).


Education helps young people to make health informed choices and can positively contribute to the economic development of the country. Child marriages and teenage pregnancy cases can also be reduced by supporting young people in various communities especially those in farming and mining communities to access quality education.


There is a strong correlation between drug and substance abuse and mental illness worldwide. In Zimbabwe, in 2018, the Ministry of Health and Child Care established that 57 percent of all psychiatric patients admitted at various institutions were attributed to drug and substance abuse. Drug and substance abuse also promote sexual gender-based violence and a range of violent behaviors such as vandalism and also poor management of peer relationships.  


The National Youth Day thus presents another opportunity for the government of Zimbabwe and the parliament to reflect on the gaps of the country’s drug laws which might be a hindrance to win the fight against drug and substance abuse. Our stakeholders have highlighted several times that the Dangerous Drugs Act (Chapter 15) together with the Criminal and Codification Act are not in tandem with the contemporary thinking on how to decisively deal with the drug and substance abuse problem.


SAYWHAT implores the government and parliament to reform drug and substance abuse legal instruments with heavy punishment being placed on suppliers and distributors. Drug and substance abuse laws should promote survivors to open up so that they receive adequate rehabilitation and reintegration services they need.  


The government through the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare working with various civil society organisations (CSOs) equally has a duty to ensure that rehabilitation infrastructure is conducive for all survivors of drugs and substance abuse. Young people who are looking for assistance to be rescued from the drug and substance abuse snare should not suffer criminal punitive penalties but investment should be directed into professional counselling by recruitment and training.


In addition, recreational facilities across the country need to be revived with the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation opening up more spaces for young people to explore their talents so that they are able to irk a living. This is an alternative to limited employment opportunities which have been cited as one of the reasons that drive young people to indulge into drug and substance abuse.


On this day, we call upon all young people across the divide to desist from drug and substance abuse as this is detrimental to their health and their future. Young people need to be cognizant of the fact that excessive use of psychoactive drugs such as alcohol, pain medication or any other illegal drugs can lead to physical, social or emotional harm. In some instances, medical studies have established that drug and substance abuse cause permanent brain damage which maybe irreversible and this can manifest as dementia and seizures.


Make drug and substance free choices today. You are brighter and stronger without drugs.


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