Government has expressed concern over the increase in the abuse of cocaine and cannabis in Southern Province.
Livingstone District Commissioner Omar Munsanje said the 2014 Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) Annual Report was worrying as it indicated an increase in cannabis and cocaine abuse in the province.
Mr. Munsanje stated that last year, DEC seized over three tonnes of Cannabis translating into an increment of 7.5 percent with a total number of 445 people arrested.
“Among those arrested were 28 youths and 53 women. Out of the arrested youths, 16 were juveniles so it is sad to realize that our youths are now very vulnerable to drug abuse as the drugs like cannabis are widely cultivated in this province,” he said.
Mr. Munsanje said this June 26th in a speech read for him by Livingstone District Administrative Officer, Harriet Kawina at the commemoration of the World Anti-Drug Day at Mukuni Park.
The commemoration which was held under the theme: ‘Let’s develop our lives, our communities, our identities without drugs,’ also served as a launch for anti-drug club badges in Livingstone and Choma based schools.
The Livingstone District Commissioner said it was important for people to know that development should not be based on trafficking and abuse of drugs but through hard work.
Mr. Munsanje further said drug abuse and trafficking had proved to be a major catalyst in criminal acts such as assaults and gender based violence.
Earlier, Drug Enforcement Commission Southern Region Commander Katisha Jere said abuse of alcohol and other drugs had continued to be a threat to the nation which if left unchecked could cause serious health, social and economic problems.
Mr. Katisha urged all stakeholders to take an active role in the fight against drug abuse.
He said alcohol and drug abuse led to the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted infections, and perpetuated vices such as gender based violence, child abuse and other related crimes in the community.
“Therefore, in order to avoid the said crimes, communities should come together to fight drug abuse in order for them to develop their lives, communities and their identities without drugs,” he said.
Mr. Katisha said the theme encouraged Zambia to join the world at large in eradicating drug trafficking and abuse at all levels in society.