Cabinet yesterday approved an upward review of fines of up to US$400 from US$30 and a jail term of up to two years for those convicted of dealing in drug and substance abuse as Government seeks to combat the vice.

This was said by Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Jenfan Muswere while delivering a post Cabinet media briefing in Harare yesterday.

He said Cabinet received a report on National Drug and Substance Abuse Response presented by Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe.

He said the fight against the scourge of drug and substance abuse is continuing across all provinces of the country.

“Monitoring, surveillance and law enforcement activities continue with a total of 2 373 individuals having been arrested while 48 bases were identified, raided and destroyed in six provinces, namely, (Harare 10), Manicaland (25), Mashonaland Central (6), Matabeleland North (3), Mashonaland West (2) and Midlands (2). Joint operations involving the Liquor Licensing Board and the Zimbabwe Republic Police were conducted resulting in 724 liquor premises being inspected, out of which 124 outlet owners were arrested for violating license conditions,” he said.

“Cabinet also approved the upward review of the fine from level 5 of US$30 to Level 7 which is US$400 or the ZIG equivalent or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 2 years. A total of 25 792 youths were sensitised on anti-drug and substance abuse-related matters in Masvingo, Mashonaland Central, Matabeleland North and Manicaland provinces, while in the education sector a total of 569 969 learners were sensitised through special assemblies, in collaboration with the Victim Friendly Unit, Guidance and Counselling interactive sessions, sporting activities and peer education. Crystal Meth has been designated as a dangerous drug.”

Dr Muswere said the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development sensitised 14 951 people in all the provinces through various platforms such as Campaigns against societal ills such as Gender Based Violence (GBV), Child Marriages, HIV/AIDS, Internal Savings and Lending, Financial Literacy.

“Ward meetings and gender sensitisation meetings were held in collaboration with sister Ministries and Development Partners. A total of 16 529 people were capacitated on various income generating projects such as poultry, detergent-making, drink-making, packaging, branding and perfume-making.”

Dr Muswere said it was pleasing to note that some religious organisations have embraced the fight against drug and substance abuse through campaigns encouraging particularly the youths to live drug-free lives.

“The Empower Bank capacitated youths across the country by providing them with starter packs. A total of 101 youths were trained under the revamped Youth Service in Zimbabwe Programme while more youths are expected to be enrolled following the launch by His Excellency the President, Cde Dr. E.D. Mnangagwa at Nhakiwa, in the Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe District of Mashonaland East Province on 24 May, 2024,” he said.

“In an effort to restore the spirit of volunteerism, responsibility and ownership in the youths, the Youth Build Zimbabwe initiative saw 1 900 youths volunteers participating in various community development projects in Masvingo, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central provinces.”

Last week, Minister Kazembe told the National Assembly that they were pushing for the amendment of the law to have a jail term imposed on all drugs and subsistence offenders without an option of a fine as part of elaborate measures to deal with the scourge in the country.

Minister Kazembe said this in the National Assembly during question and answer session.

Glenview North MP, Happymore Chidziva (CCC) had asked what Government was doing to curb the widespread challenge of drug and substance use.

Minister Kazembe said they were in the process of having the law amended.

“This Office recommends custodial sentences in all issues to do with drug and substance as a deterrent measure to the scourge. However, our recommendations have been referred to the Attorney General’s Office who have the duty to amend the existing laws. Recommendations by this office for amendment of all the existing laws to deal with drug and substance abuse are being worked on by the Policy and Legal Pillar to the National Elimination Committee on drug and substance abuse,” he said.

The Herald