‘No political will to fight drug smuggling’



South Africa and Zimbabwe political elites are not doing enough to curb the illegal smuggling of dangerous drugs and substances including cigarettes hence continuous trafficking of the illicit substances through porous borders to their final destinations, experts said.

Drugs and dangerous substances are smuggled daily through border posts and illegal points with laws not stringent enough to block involved criminals.

Political actors are also conniving with criminal syndicates hence their reluctance to take a stern position to completely eradicate smuggling, observers say.

An investigation by Business Times unearthed that South African Police Service (SAPS) and the local police were colluding with criminal syndicates to allow smuggling of drugs.

The investigation was done with support from the VMCZ investigative journalism fund on transnational crimes.

Despite Zimbabwean and South African police launching several operations to curb drug smuggling, abuse remains rampant mainly among the youth with easy access to the dangerous substances.

A South African anti-smuggling advocate Yusuf Abramjee told Business Times that there was no political will to fight smuggling between the two neighbouring countries.

“There is very little evidence of these rogue officials receiving any punishment that would serve as sufficient deterrent,” Abramjee said.

“What is clearly lacking at the moment is the political will to root out the kingpins making a fortune out of this criminality,” he added.

“Until our leaders empower enforcement authorities properly and ensure they do their job, the looting of our fiscus will continue unabated.”

Zimbabwe police national spokesperson Assistant Commisioner Paul Nyathi says the ongoing anti-drugs and substance abuse blitz will not spare all involved including members of the force, politicians or company executives.

He told Business Times that 493 of the people arrested by the CID Drugs and Narcotics were  below 35 years of age while those over 35 are at 1 333.

Nyathi said Crystal meth, better known, as Mutoriro was the dominant drug among Zimbabwean youths.

He said over 26 kilogrammes of Mutoriro was found in the operation while 1419kgs of Cocaine were also confiscated.

Over 15kgs of heroin and 312.113kgs of dagga were also confiscated.

“We have also arrested company executives over drug supply and abuse so there is no turning back on that,” Nyathi said.

This week, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister who is the chairperson of the national committee on drug and substance abuse, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, said drugs and substances worth Z$438 654 692 were intercepted under Operation Clean-Up Zimbabwe with 6 156 accused persons being arrested and prosecuted across the country.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Cabinet heard, is soon expected to launch the Nation Action Plan on Drug and Substance Abuse.



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