BY BRENDA NCUBE
Victoria Falls residents and community leaders have bemoaned the rise in alcohol and drug substances abuse among the youth in the tourism resort, amid revelations that peer pressure, unemployment, lack of legislative frameworks and political interference was hampering efforts to arrest the scourge.
Frustrated residents vented during a recent meeting called by the Hwange West Member of Parliament Godfrey Dube which sought to map some solutions to prevent, fight and combat alcohol and drug substances abuse in the community.
Zimbabwe Republic Police is currently on an operation that has been dubbed “No to dangerous drugs and illicit substances, and on Monday, they arrested 24 people across the country, bringing cumulative arrests to 2 152.
During the meeting, residents submitted that drug suppliers and dealers were well-known cartels that even police know of, but because of their links, nothing was being done to them.
Former ward six councillor Ephias Mambume said the issue of youths was being fueled by misplaced priorities especially towards power retention by the politicians at the expense of funding programs like drug abuse.
“We cannot win this war on drugs if we fail to eliminate the supply and availability of illicit drugs in the market, ”
Mambume told the gathering at Brethren in Christ Church on Saturday.
“The police know who and where these people are and it is their job to arrest them.
“At central government we have a national drug master plan which covers 2022-25 but there misplaced priorities at the top there.
“Money is spent on useless things especially towards retention at the expense of programs like these.
These are the same youths that we need to vote us back to power yet we are not funding projects that will make them disciplined individuals in society. ” he said.
He, however, implored residents to alert police by giving them information or leads to drug dealers and further called churches, parents and schools among other stakeholders to join hands.
His sentiments were also echoed by another resident who said: “Everyone here knows who the kingpin of drug dealerships and distribution in this town is but they are still walking scot-free under the protection of the police,” he claimed.
“Some kids once stole my drums and went on to exchange them with drugs.
“When we involved the police the person said they are his friends and he will just give them money and go back to continue with his dealership.”
According to councillor for ward 10 Nkanyiso Sibindi, youths are pushed into taking drugs and alcohol by the lack of employment and recreational facilities.
“The problems that the youths are facing in Victoria Falls are unemployment, peer pressure and lack of recreational facilities to keep them occupied. In this meeting we have proffered solutions to address these challenges,” he told VicFallsLive on the sidelines.
In a move to provide solutions to challenges faced by the youth in Victoria Falls’ deputy Mayor Patricia Mwale said there was need for repossession properties such as Victoria Falls Club and the community swimming pool that we leased to certain individuals who are not living up to the council’s agreement as they allow youths to use the spaces for free and commit illicit crimes.
Speaking into unemployment one of the residents said that local companies must employ locally.
“The hotel industry must employ local graduates and stop bringing in people from outside,” one concerned resident suggested.
“We need our community leaders and civic society groups to approach these companies and make it a deliberate policy that they should employ local graduates and stop using our children as free labor in the name of training them.
“This puts them through a lot of stress and in the end they turn into drugs as they say hope deferred makes the heart sick.”
In response to submissions by residents and stakeholders, Dube said he will take them up to government tiers that deal with such issues.
“To look at the issue of unemployment and sporting facilities that will keep our children occupied I will engage the ministry sports and the ministry of labor and social welfare with issues that have been brought up by the community and various stakeholders,” he said.
“From here, we will produce a positional paper which will be copied to the City council, the police, the Minister, the President and everyone concerned to say this is where we stand as Victoria Falls on the issue of drugs and this is what we want.”
Dube implored the community to be on the alert and work together with the police to report cases of drug abuse or dealership in a bid to reduce alcohol and drug substances abuse
He added that he will continue calling for such meetings in schools, churches and public spaces until the abuse of alcohol and drug substances is significantly eradicated.
Zambia Limits Worship Time To Two Hours To Curb Cholera
Churches across Zambia have received a mandate to restrict worship sessions to a maximum of two hours.
The directive, issued by Ndiwa Mutelo, a high-ranking official overseeing religious affairs, also prohibits the sale of perishable and ready-to-eat foods within church premises.
To further minimize the risk of disease transmission, worshippers are strongly advised to refrain from handshakes and hugs. In an official statement, Mr. Mutelo emphasized the importance of maintaining hygiene within worship centers.
Churches are now required to provide safe drinking water, designated hand washing points, and make available alcohol-based hand sanitizers to their congregants.
The urgency of these measures is underscored by the significant cholera outbreak in Zambia, with more than 7,800 reported cases since last October. Over the past 24 hours alone, the health ministry has recorded over 400 new cases and 18 fatalities.
This latest intervention aims to mitigate the impact of the cholera epidemic, emphasizing the collective responsibility of religious institutions in safeguarding public health.
Lubangwe villagers walk over 30KM to access nearest clinic
BY LWANDLE MTHUNZI
Access to primary healthcare remains a major challenge to communities in Lubangwe resettlement area in Hwange where the nearest clinic is more than 30km away for some.
Lubangwe Railway Farm 55 resettlement was established in 2000 during the country’s land reform when scores of villagers, mostly families of war veterans, were settled in the area.
Government did not construct schools and clinics and old farm buildings were converted into learning facilities.
While some schools are now available as a result, although far away from some villages, the communities remain with no health facility which makes access to health a major challenge.
The worst affected are pregnant women and people living with chronic diseases such as HIV and TB who have to regularly get their monthly allocation of life saving tablets.
Edwin Nyoni, head of village 1 said had it not been for village health workers mortality could be high for people with chronic illnesses.
“We don’t have a clinic and people walk 25km to 30km to Ndlovu clinic because most have no money for transport. We risk our lives through the wildlife infested bush to Ndlovu hence we appeal to the government to help us establish a clinic nearby. We have village health workers who assist to reduce mortality and prevent home deliveries by making sure pregnant women and the chronically ill are assisted to go to hospital,” he said.
In village 2 villagers are patiently waiting for the opening of a clinic after a building was identified for use as a health facility.
The structure has no electricity and water, said village head Joseph Munsaka.
“They promised to bring some nurses to use a building that is lying idle. They said they want to connect water and electricity and we hope this will happen soon to save lives,” he said.
Gilbert Munkuli said sometimes health authorities visit with a mobile clinic at the nearby Nyongolo primary school.
He said some of his villagers walk more than 30km because they have no money for transport making access to health difficult.
“It is more than 30km to go to Ndlovu Clinic and health workers sometimes come to Nyongolo Primary School to give tablets especially to the chronically ill. Those with money sometimes hire cars but some die at home or fail to go to hospital which worsens the burden of diseases such as TB,” he said.
Because of proximity to Hwange coal mining town where most people in Hwange worked at the Hwange Colliery Company, the burden of TB is high around the district as many families have lived in Hwange town at some stage before retiring to the rural areas.
Nesi Mpala of village 2 appealed to the government to open a clinic to save chronically ill community members.
“The clinic is far and people who seek medical attention suffer, with pregnant women and those with chronic diseases the worst affected. People living with HIV and Aids are better because health workers come to give them tablets but those with TB have to go to the clinic and struggle to travel because transport is expensive. We wish the government can give us a mobile clinic so that TB patients and pregnant women get help,” said Mpala.
Government is working on a national health policy whose vision is to ensure primary health care is accessible to all communities although the plan has been in the pipeline for many years.
Health is a critical human right and key to attainment of Sustainable Development Goals.
VFWT partners with Mvuthu villagers to tackle human-wildlife conflicts
BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI
The Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust (VFWT) has announced that they have secured funding to work with the communities of the new scheme of herding cattle, amid growing concerns of human-wildlife conflicts in the Mvuthu’s jurisdiction.
This was announced by the VFWT Community Liaison officer Bongani Dlodlo on Tuesday at a village assembly meeting in the Mvuthu area.
He said the scheme aims to reduce the continuous attack of the domestic animals, mainly the cattle by predators such as the lions.
The organisation will actively involved in various environmental issues in the area, including the introduction of mobile bomas years ago, making of chill dung to deter elephants among other rehabilitation projects.
“This will be a programme to run for three years, where we are going to create mobile kraals where the whole village, those who are willing will bring their cattle there and we will hire some willing community members above 22 years of age to look after them during the day and night,” Dlodlo said.
“We are trying to reduce the problem of your livestock getting killed and while under this scheme, we shall ensure that they get treated whenever they present some symptoms of not being well and we will also vaccinate and feed them so that they can increase the value in the market whenever you want to dispose of some of them.”
Dlodlo also added that this will be done throughout the year.
“During the off-cropping season, we will be rotating them from one field to the other so that we also mitigate the issue of poor soils this community is faced with. By this, we hope that even your yield will improve for these coming years.”
Although some at the meeting met with skepticism, Dlodlo insisted that the villagers were not under duress to let go of their cattle and that the preparatory planning and strategies to be adopted were going to be done together with the communities.
Fears were around the issue of religious beliefs around the rearing of livestock.
Other concerns were around the issue of having to walk long distances to milk cows and even having them to perform some day to day chores such as the fetching of firewood.
According to the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers, cases of human-wildlife conflicts have been increasing since 2016 by over 216 percent and Mvuthu villagers have often paid the price without compensation.
Others also queried about what will happen if their livestock gets attacked while with the hired herders and Dlodlo responded: “We will not be paying for any compensation because ours to try and help this community, but because the herders and the place of herding will be chosen by you, we hope that this will be a holistic community project where you can always check on what is happening as we work together.”
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