THAT the growing menace of junkies has continued to receive little attention from the authorities and the public is a cause for concern.

The so-called junkies are often dismissed and ignored without realising that they pose a danger to the country’s development and well-being.

Simply writing them off as being social misfits who must be left to their own devices is behaving like the proverbial camel – hiding one’s head in the sand to escape from impending danger.

For now, most are young, making people fail to recognise the potential danger they pose when they grow up.

Government and other stakeholders, particularly the Church must raise their act to tackle this growing social menace head on.

As the Catholic Church says, the problem of junkies is a ticking time bomb that will wreck the country’s development gains if left unchecked. 

Archbishop of Lusaka Alick Banda rightly observes that the escalating problem of junkies will explode and cause a catastrophic effect to the country’s socio-economic development trajectory.

Dr Banda says there is a need for Zambians and the government to quickly intervene and address the growing problem of junkies in society as seen through drug addiction, teenage pregnancies and petty crime.

“Everything we are working for, building will be in vain if we do not seriously and urgently address the issue of junkies” said Dr Banda.

The government for example has tried to introduce skills training for youths, street kids in particular through the Zambia National Service but there appears to be little to show how successful the programme has been.

The nation is yet to see any role models who could be used to entice their friends about the benefits of undergoing such training programmes.

Even the skills development schemes under the Constituency Development Fund have not been institutionalised and are viewed more as a project for those belonging to the ruling United Party for National Development.

Government must go out of its way, through the Ministry of Sports, Youth and Arts to depoliticise this aspect of the CDF.

In fact, all youth empowerment schemes must be free of political influence to make them more effective.

As the Archbishop said, there is a need for the government and communities to devise interventions, stating that the church is reinvigorating its outreach to young people to ensure that they are empowered with skills to make them productive.

It should not be business as usual when hundreds of young people are living off the streets due to a myriad of social and economic reasons.

It is a fact that unemployment has made it easy for the youth to be manipulated and used as foot soldiers by political parties to “fix” their rivals. All major political parties are guilty of this.

What is required is to reduce on the political rhetoric and bring on board the Church as well as civil society organisations dealing with young people and find a lasting solution.


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