As drug abuse continues to take its toll among youths and other members of the community, the Zimbabwe Network for Economic and Social Transformation (Zinest) is launching a campaign to fight this scourge.
Eradication of substance abuse is highlighted as crucial by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children in their Sustainable Developments Goals 2030 and Zinest chairperson Takemore Mazuruse said it was imperative that progressive organisations work together to achieve that goal.
"Substance abuse is real and even global players like the United Nations are in support of the fight towards its eradication in our communities," Mazuruse said.
"Working with other like-minded organisations, corporates, artistes and media players, we are launching an awareness campaign dubbed Stop Drug Abuse and we will host the inaugural event at Club Joy Centre in Highfield, Harare."
Mazuruse, a journalist and development worker, said they were happy to have received support from a local arts promotion and entertainment player, Club Joy Centre, who availed one of their venues for the initiative.
"Club Joy Centre proprietor and businessman David Mudzudzu offered his open-air venue in Highfield for the launch of this drug abuse awareness initiative and we are grateful for this gesture," he said.
"The place is spacious and is home to many youths who frequent the place for the free music gigs that he hosts as well as the beer and braai that is readily available.
"We are, therefore, going to ride on the crowds that gather for the free entertainment to get the message home."
Speaking to Standard Style, Mudzudzu said he was moved by the drug abuse awareness initiative because he understands the challenges that most youths face, especially in high-density areas where he runs his business.
"I run my Club Joy Centre business in the ghetto with joints dotted around Highfield, Glen Norah, Chitungwiza and Mbare at one point. I have been in this line of business for over 20 years," Mudzudzu said.
"While there is nothing wrong with responsible drinking, I have seen young people and even the elderly abuse drugs and substances to the point of becoming helpless and even losing their lives."
The respected businessman, known for supporting many local artistes, said it was sad that young lives, families and careers were being destroyed because of drug abuse and he was happy to work with Zinest towards curbing of substance abuse.
"I have seen respected names in the arts sector lose everything because of drug abuse and we are going to rope in some of the survivors of drug abuse in this campaign so that they become champions of hope. We are, therefore, availing our venues in Highfield and Chitungwiza to ensure this initiative is a success," Mudzudzu said.
Mazuruse, who thanked Mudzudzu for the support, said they were hoping for more players to come on board so that the initiative becomes a success.
"Beyond personal enrichment, I believe it is important that we do something towards community development and fighting drug abuse is a very noble initiative that we must all embrace," Mazuruse said.
"We are, therefore, calling on the corporate world, artistes and the media to support this noble initiative. A lot is needed in terms of technical, material and financial input and together we will win this fight."
Substance abuse remains high among unemployed youths in Zimbabwe and many of them have taken to substance abuse as a way to deal with their life challenges. This is even worse in economically challenged communities like the high-density suburbs.
Mazuruse said as Zinest they were doing all they could to curb substance abuse as a contribution to community and nation building.
"Our organisation brings together various professionals and progressive Zimbabweans who are motivated by the desire to achieve total economic and social transformation of marginalised groups and beyond response to drug abuse, we hope to have more partners that can help us design livelihoods programmes for these youths so that they become more productive," he said.