Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday implored churches to complement Government efforts in fighting 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 witnessing an upsurge in drug abuse cases and most of those abusing 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 youths. 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 and also 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.”
President Mnangagwa 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 challenged congregants to be good stewards who work for the betterment of the church.
He paid tribute to churches 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, the church has 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. 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,” he said.
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 the state of roads, 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 where I shared 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, President Mnangagwa said, will certainly regain the bread basket status on the African continent.
He commended Guta Ra Mwari for complementing Government efforts to provide 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 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 education that addresses 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. 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,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said his administration remains committed to providing services to improve the citizens’ standard of living.
He noted that there has been significant progress recorded in the health sector, which saw construction of new clinics and hospitals. The President Mnanagagwa urged people to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
Commenting on the implementation of the Devolution Agenda, President Mnangagwa said people were now enjoying the fruits of devolution as local authorities were being allocated devolution funds to buy equipment to enable them to provide critical services.
Turning to Bulawayo’s water challenges, President Mnangagwa said as a stop-gap measure boreholes were drilled at Nyamandlovu Aquifer but the long term solution was drawing water from from Lake Gwayi- Shangani which 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 President Mnanagagwa 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 and fight this scourge,” he said.
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.