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'High technology needed to combat drug smuggling,' in Zimbabwe

by Staff reporter
13 Apr 2023 at 08:10hrs | Views
POLICE Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga has called on the Government to invest in state-of-the-art technologies at the country's ports of entry and exit to combat the smuggling of illicit drugs and substances.

Commissioner-General Matanga made the plea yesterday during the Economic Development Conference held at the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre in Bulawayo. The conference was attended by high-profile dignitaries, including President Mnangagwa and Vice-President Dr Constantino Chiwenga.

President Mnangagwa was the guest of honour and keynote speaker at the event that brought thousands of youths together.

The Vision 2030 Conference ran under the theme "Creating a young people-led economy by 2030 by fighting drug and substance abuse".

The event was also attended by Defence and War Veterans Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima, Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Kirsty Coventry, Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mangaliso Ndlovu, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Senator Monica Mutsvangwa.

Political leaders who also attended included Zanu-PF spokesperson Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa, Zanu-PF politburo member Colonel (retired) Tshinga Dube and Zanu-PF Bulawayo provincial chairman Jabulani Sibanda.

The conference comes after Government last year set up an inter-ministerial taskforce committee on drugs and substance abuse, chaired by the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and deputised by the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation.

The committee was set up to help Government come up with effective strategies to end drug and substance abuse in Zimbabwe.

Commissioner-General Matanga highlighted that despite the police force's efforts, the country is still grappling with drug and substance abuse, and more resources are needed to win the fight against the scourge. He revealed that police have arrested over 4 000 people, including 466 suppliers, and have confiscated and destroyed large quantities of substances. He also noted that drug mules from Brazil, India, Nigeria, and Latvia have been arrested while using points of entry to move the contraband.

"We feel that there is still need for more resources in this fight. These include high-powered motor vehicles for high-speed chases and low-cost vehicles for patrols and surveillance, state-of-the-art technologies at ports of entry and exit, as well as funding for more localised and international training to catch up with new skills requirements in this field.

"It will be most desirable that these resources and capabilities if availed be concentrated more in our specialised unit for the cause, which is our drugs and narcotics units under our Criminal Investigations Department (CID)," Commissioner-General Matanga said.

Commissioner-General Matanga also raised concerns over the country's lenient laws towards drug dealers and consumers, stating that the sentences were not deterrent enough. He called on the Government to review the laws to cater for all types of drugs and practices that are emerging.

"Sentences for drug dealers and consumers are still so lenient that they are still very far from disincentivising these practices. Drug dealers are getting away with non-deterrent sentences and in some cases community service sentences. At times the sentences are nothing more than a slap on the wrist. In addition, our laws must be amended to adequately cater for all types of drugs and practices that are emerging," said Commissioner General Matanga.

The Police Commissioner-General emphasised that the drug problem is a clear manifestation of highly sophisticated and syndicated networks of transnational organised criminal activities.

"More worrying being that our country has not been spared as this disaster has reached unprecedented levels, threatening to complexly annihilate the future generations.

"We have observed that peer influence among youth as well as deceitful and enticing use of social media to package and spread narratives that portray drug taking as an admirable lifestyle are some of the factors abating the increase the uptake of drugs in our society," said Commissioner-General Matanga.

He said drugs and substances such as mutoriro (Crystal Meth), Broncleer cough mixture, marijuana, injectables, tablets, illicit brews and spirits have caused untold physiological and psychological health complications; immorality as well as antisocial behaviour.

"We are fully aware that what we face today as a drug and substance abuse problem is a clear manifestation of highly sophisticated and syndicated networks of transnational organised criminal activities which are interwoven. Syndicates dealing in both plant-based and synthetic drugs substances are spirited and highly determined to plunge the world with dangerous drugs and substances out of which they are making unimaginable sums of money," said Commissioner General Matanga.

Commissioner-General Matanga highlighted that tackling the drug problem can only be meaningful through effective collaboration among several stakeholders, including both state and non-state actors. He pledged the police force's unflinching commitment to saving future generations from the drug menace.

Source - The Chronicle