Bongani Ndlovu Bulawayo Bureau
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday implored churches to complement Government efforts in the fight against drugs and substance abuse among youths, saying the church is an important stratum in society, which should lead from the forefront in nation-building and development.
Zimbabwe is experiencing an upsurge in drug abuse cases and most of those abusing the drugs are young people.
The illegal practice has been worsened by the fact that there are no rehabilitation centres in the country and addicts are likely to relapse even after treatment at Ingutsheni Central Hospital.
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.
In a speech read on his behalf by Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Judith Ncube, during the 62nd Guta Ra Mwari’s God’s Coming celebrations at the church’s Tshabalala headquarters in Bulawayo yesterday, President Mnangagwa noted that abuse has become a “cancer” that threatens the lives of youths.
“Drug abuse has become a menace in our society, which is a cancer that threatens the lives of our youth. Government through its organs is working tirelessly to address this problem and to win this war we need to be united,” said President Mnangagwa.
“The drug peddlers are in our communities, let’s avail this information to our police force and more so, seek help for those youths that have been affected. To the youth of the church, I call upon you to be examples to others by leading the way in shunning drug abuse.”
The President urged the church to participate in the building of the nation, saying it is an inheritance from God. He said as the country is heading for the harmonised elections, the church should pray for peace to prevail.
President Mnangagwa further challenged congregants to be good stewards and work for the betterment of the church. The President paid tribute to the church for playing a pivotal role during the country’s liberation struggle.
“From time immemorial, the church has remained an important strata in society and largely in the State. In our nation, particularly the church played a pivotal role in supporting the war of liberation from the colonial regime through prayer and encouraging their members to support and be part of the cause,” he said.
“President Mnangagwa said in pursuance of Vision 2030 that encapsulated the aspirations and desires of citizens, the church has a huge role to play in its attainment.
“We envision a prosperous and empowered upper-middle-income economy/society by 2030. My administration has called upon all Zimbabweans to play their part in this journey. Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo/Ilizwe lakhiwa ngabaninilo is not just a mantra, but it’s a call to each and every Zimbabwean to stand up and build this great nation,” he said.
“I, therefore, call upon the Guta Ra Mwari members from the eldest to the youngest to stand up and be counted in the building of our nation. I challenge you in whatever way you can be part of the builders of Zimbabwe.”
President Mnangagwa also took the opportunity to highlight to the church some of the key developmental projects being spearheaded by the Government under the Second Republic.
“My administration, through the various instruments chief among them, the National Development Strategy 1, has recorded a significant number of achievements. The state of our roads was in an awful condition, prompting my Government to roll out the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP) in 2021 to rehabilitate and upgrade our road network system,” he said.
The President said through the ERRP, there has been a great improvement on roads, which are a key component in terms of supporting economic development.
“The programme will continue with the support from the Treasury and it is our aim to make sure our roads are trafficable and safe for all Zimbabweans,” he said.
The President also noted that last year the country hit a record by surpassing the wheat target owing to the Government’s programmes of constructing and rehabilitating irrigation schemes across the country including the mechanisation and financial support given to farmers.
“I recently attended a conference in Senegal sharing with the world our journey to attain food security and this is one of the most important achievements under the Second Republic, and I continue to assure you that no one in this country will die of hunger, not in our time,” he said.
“Zimbabwe will certainly regain the bread basket status in the African continent.”
President Mnangagwa commended Guta Ra Mwari for complementing Government efforts in the provision of quality education through building a school.
“I am pleased to note that the church is also supporting the Government in the delivery of education as I have been informed that you are currently constructing a high school. This is commendable,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said Government made strides in providing social services to the populace. To date, the Government introduced Education 5.0 which has seen schools and universities offering strides that are relevant to address the country’s problems and the 21st century needs.
“Further, the Government has constructed new schools throughout the country and supported the vulnerable pupils through the BEAM programme and subsidies towards examination fees. Through the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, a phased approach to the provision of free basic education has begun,” he said.
“In the same vein, I want to implore congregants that there is no reason that exists for not sending children to school. Abantwana abahambe ezikolo (let the children go to school).”
President Mnangagwa said his administration remains committed to providing services that will improve the standard of living for citizens.
He noted that there has been significant progress recorded in the health sector, which saw construction of new clinics and hospitals. The President urged people to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
President Mnangagwa said the implementation of the Devolution Agenda is bearing some fruits as the local authorities have managed to acquire requisite equipment enabling them to deliver critical services using devolution funds.
Turning to Bulawayo’s water challenges, President Mnangagwa said as a stop-gap measure Nyamandlovu Aquifer was constructed while the ongoing construction of Lake Gwayi- Shangani in Hwange District, Matabeleland North will provide a long-lasting solution to the city’s perennial water woes.
Lake Gwayi-Shangani is set to be completed this year.
Speaking during the same event, the vice secretary general of Guta Ra Mwari Church, Mr Uthini Moses Tshuma said the church has introduced several programmes to tackle drug and substance abuse and thanked the President for his message on fighting scourge.
“A lot of the youth are now involved in drug and alcohol abuse and they are now wayward. As a church we have many programmes in place to try fight this scourge,” he said.
“It is an encouragement that the President also brought this word to us to help fight drug abuse in society.”
Mr Tshuma said in trying to help curb drug abuse, the church is building a high school that will serve the community.
Vice chairman of Guta Ra Mwari International Mr Kalani Ndlovu said the church is helping in nation-building in line with President Mnangagwa’s call.
Thousands of congregants, some from as far as England, Ireland, South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, attended the three-day conference which started on Friday and ended yesterday.
Among those who attended the event were senior Government officials comprising the Deputy Chief Secretary for the social services sector, Reverend Paul Bayethe Damasane, and members of the local Joint Operation Command (JOC).