Zimbabwe Drug Peddlers Selling Drugs To 14 Year Olds

Local drug dealers, also known as MaJazzMan are now disregarding age and selling drugs to whoever shows up on their doorstep, a UNCEF Report has said.

By Kudakwashe Pembere

According to a UNICEF September 2023 research brief dubbed, ‘Understanding drug use and substance abuse by Zimbabwean adolescents and young people’, it was found that these dealers popularly known as ‘maJazzman’ are so profit-driven they condone any age.

The research brief is a summary of the findings and recommendations from Muthengo Development Studies (MDS), Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (ZCLDN), and Youth Advocates Zimbabwe (YAZ).

According to the MDS study, dealers’ homes or place of operations see the highest level of consumption at 46%; with 32% using at a friend’s house. 9% of the study participants claim that sellers are widely known in communities and sell indiscriminately to all ages,” read the brief.

UNICEF said amongst the major drivers initiating people to the use of drugs and alcohol included, “Death of parent(s); (ii) Poverty and idleness; (iii) Absent parents (iv); Broken homes; (v) Inadequate parenting practices; (vi) Social influence; (vii) Stress; (viii) Deviant behaviour traits; and (ix) Experimentation.”

The effects of alcohol, drugs and substance abuse aside from broken families, damaging properties, and broken relationships, YAZ according to this research brief found gang violence topping the list.

“The effects of alcohol, drugs and other substances abuse is severe: The Youth Advocates Zimbabwe study revealed disturbing patterns directly attributable to ADS abuse: 70% of gang violence is among school children; 15% of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and Gender Based Violence (GBV) cases involve adolescents and young people; 40% of suicide attempts are linked to ADS abuse; and an increase in school dropouts with 60% having dropped out of school after being expelled for ADS abuse,” said UNICEF.

With the cost of the most abused substances and alcohol averaging US$2, urban dwellers consumed more, according to UNICEF.

“Costs are low, with users spending, on average, US$2 to satisfy their needs. Across ADS distribution transit corridors, such as Chipinge, the cost of ADS is even lower and easy to acquire. Alcohol, drugs, and other substances abuse is higher in urban areas than rural. The main reason is the stronger community childcare system and closer parental care that prevails in rural communities,” added UNICEF.

In the study, skunk, cannabis, illegal alcohol, cough medicines, and liquors approved by the Liquor Traders Association of Zimbabwe (LTAZ) were used by more than 50% of the ADS abusers.

“Daily consumption were measured in the 30 days preceding the ZCLDN study. 76.5% skunk; 75.1% cannabis; 57.3% illegal alcohol; 56.0% cough medicines; and 50.6% legal alcohol,” said UNICEF.

Researchers found that consumption of alcohol, drugs and other substances starts as early as adolescence.

“While the youngest user in the ZCLDN study was 14 years old, the median age of first drug use was 18 years old. This is comparable with findings from YAZ where the youngest Alcohol Drug and Substance Abuse (ADS) user was 15-year-old. According to the MDS study the youngest user was 10 years old, and the 10-18 years old is the most vulnerable age group,” said UNICEF.

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