The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has taken significant steps in the fight against drug trafficking and abuse by setting up Drugs and Narcotics units at key border posts to curb the inflow of illegal drugs into the country.
This development is in line with the objectives of the inter-ministerial task force on drugs and substance abuse, which encompasses various pillars, including supply reduction, demand reduction, harm reduction, treatment and rehabilitation, psycho-social support, community re-integration, and media and information.
Information, Publicity, and Broadcasting Services Minister, Dr. Jenfan Muswere, announced the establishment of these units during a recent post-Cabinet media briefing. The four border posts where these units have been deployed are Beitbridge, Victoria Falls, Chirundu, and Mutare.
Additionally, similar units have been set up at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, and Victoria Falls airports. The use of advanced technologies such as drones is also being employed to enhance border surveillance and reduce drug smuggling and trafficking.
Under the supply reduction pillar, the ZRP has been conducting raids and operations against drug suppliers, dealers, and peddlers, leading to the arrest of 5,367 offenders from July 7 to September 23, 2023.
This marks a significant increase compared to the 4,328 arrests made throughout the entirety of 2022. Furthermore, 81 bases, where drug users and peddlers congregated, were dismantled during this period.
Minister Muswere also highlighted the efforts of the Liquor Licensing Board in reducing unlicensed liquor outlets, vendors, and peddlers.
This included inspections of premises, investigations into public complaints, and license cancellations. The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) canceled seven licenses for wholesalers and deregistered one.
The government is taking steps to establish a Drug Elimination Agency, which will coordinate all national activities related to drug and substance abuse through the enactment of relevant legislation.
Regarding the drug reduction pillar, various awareness and education programs have reached a total of 715,515 people. These programs include mandatory awareness campaigns in higher and tertiary education institutions and collaborations with artists and sportspersons as Ambassadors.
Under the harm reduction, treatment, and rehabilitation pillar, drug rehabilitation services have been provided in both government and private health institutions. A notable achievement was the opening of the first standalone Government drug rehabilitation center at Chipadze Detox Centre on July 24, 2023.
Psycho-social support and community re-integration efforts include outpatient rehabilitation and psycho-social support centers in Bulawayo and Harare, parenting programs, online psycho-social support services, and research and evidence gathering.
These comprehensive efforts reflect Zimbabwe’s commitment to addressing the multifaceted challenges posed by drug abuse and trafficking within the country.