POLICE in Lupane have arrested seven people in connection with cultivating approximately 246 plants of mbanje.

Police confirmed the arrest on their Twitter page on Friday afternoon, after posting a picture of some of the suspects.

The arrests are in conjunction with a countrywide crackdown dubbed No to illicit drugs and substances.

Police said: “Meanwhile, 266 arrests were made on 09/02/23 on operation “No to illicit drugs and substances” bringing the cumulative arrests to 1 655.”

Zimbabwe is experiencing an upsurge in drug abuse cases and most of those abusing the drugs are youths.

Last year, the Ministry of Health and Child Care launched a five-year strategic plan (2021-2025) against substance abuse to curb its prevalence which has become alarming.

Substances that are commonly abused are alcohol (both licensed and unlicensed brews) tobacco, cannabis and non-medical use of controlled medicines such as codeine-containing cough medicines and benzodiazepines.

According to statistics from Active Youth Zimbabwe which is a drug treatment and rehabilitation organisation, Bulawayo province has an average age of substance use initiation that is between 13 and 14 years old.

The illegal practice has been worsened by the fact that there are no rehabilitation centres locally and addicts are likely to relapse even after treatment at Ingutsheni.

This comes at a time when Zimbabwe is working towards a drug-free society through a drug master plan which will help the country achieve Vision 2030.

The master plan aims at dealing with drug and substance abuse in society. President Mnangagwa recently launched the National Anti-Drug and Substance Abuse Campaign.