Modern, Growing, Successful Province

International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (Social Development)

Address by the Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini, MP on the occasion of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Kimberley-Northern Cape Province on 26 June 2013

Programme Director,
Honourable Premier of the Northern Cape, Ms Sylvia Lucas,
MEC of Social Development in Northern Cape, Mrs Tiny Chotelo,
Executive Mayor: of Sol Plaatje Municipality, Councillor Agnes Nthlangula,
Executive Mayor of Frances Baardt District Municipality, Councillor Khadi Moloi;
Representative of UNODC Southern Africa, Mr Mandiaye Niang,
Director-General of Social Development, Mr Coceko Pakade;
Chairperson and all members of the Central Drug Authority,
Religious and community leaders,
Parents, young people, boys and girls,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to start by thanking the Northern Cape Provincial government under the leadership of the newly elected Premier, Ms Sylvia Lucas for agreeing to host us on this important day.

Honourable Premier, let me congratulate you on your election. I would also like to congratulate comrade Tiny Chotelo on her appointment as the new MEC of Social Development. We wish you success in your work and we look forward to working with you in our endeavours to consolidate the mandate of our government and better the lives of our people.

As the world marks the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking under the theme: “Making health your “new high” in life, not drugs,” government remains committed to taking action against the scourge of alcohol and substance abuse because of their devastating impact on individuals, families, communities and society as a whole. As part of the international community of nations, we are using this day to raise awareness about the dangers of alcohol and substance abuse and to call on all South Africans to join us in our national effort to build a drug-free South Africa. During the month of June, we recall the events of 16 June 1976 in Soweto, and remember the heroism of our young people who confronted repressive apartheid regime in pursuit of freedom, equality and human rights under the theme: “Working Together for Youth Development and a Drug-Free South Africa.” We also pay tribute to the forbearers of our liberation struggle who on this day in 1955 gathered in Kliptown, Soweto and adopted the Freedom Charter.

The Freedom Charter provided a clear and concise set of policies, aims and objectives and served as a vision of a post-apartheid South Africa, which was to be used as a mobilising and organising weapon in the struggle for democracy. Most importantly, the Freedom Charter allowed ordinary people, irrespective of race, language, sex, religion, class, educational standard, personal beliefs and values and organisational affiliation to speak about their hopes and dreams of the future.

During this historic gathering, South Africans declared that the “the doors of learning and culture shall be opened” and that “there shall be houses, security and comfort”. Since coming into office in 1994, the ANC government has worked hard and continue to do so in pursuit of the ideals of the Freedom Charter and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

We are almost two decades since the dawn of democracy and we can acknowledge that we have made significant progress in improving the living conditions of our people. We also acknowledge that serious challenges still remain. None demand our urgent and collective action than the scourge of alcohol and substance abuse which has the potential to seriously undermine our development and social cohesion efforts.

This morning we visited some of the households affected by this scourge and once again, we witnessed its devastating impact on families. We also witnessed that more often than not, it is usually in the most vulnerable and in the poorest communities where one finds higher levels of alcohol and drug abuse. This undermines our efforts in extricating the affected households and communities from poverty and deprivation. That is why we locate the fight against alcohol and substance abuse firmly within our anti-poverty and social cohesion interventions.

Ladies and gentlemen, recent statistics from the CDA’s 2012 annual report as well as the World Drug Report and research from the Medical Research Council (MRC) are disturbing. The reports show that the abuse of hard drugs such as heroine, cocaine, methamphetamine (known as “tik” or “nyaope” by youngsters), and other drugs that were previously unknown in our country, have reached alarming levels. More worrying is the reality that these drugs are becoming easily available to children as young as eight years old.

A provincial school survey conducted by the MRC and the UNODC in the Western Cape released April this year shows that cannabis (dagga) was the most commonly reported illicit drug used by learners. These findings clearly highlight the high need to escalate and strengthen prevention programmes among young people across the country as the scourge of alcohol and substance abuse threaten to reverse the democratic gains we have recorded since 1994.

Our government remains determined to tackle this scourge and to actively promote a drug-free society in which young people can live healthy lives. During the commemoration of the National Youth Day, President Jacob Zuma called on all of us to “fight the scourge of alcohol and substance abuse with the same vigour that we fought apartheid and the zest that is displayed in our successful fight against HIV and AIDS today.

The complex nature of this phenomenon requires that we move beyond the traditional approach of focusing only on law enforcement, and focus our national efforts on primary prevention, early intervention and promoting healthy lifestyles. To this end, Cabinet has established the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Combating Alcohol and Substance Abuse. A Programme of Action to tackle the scourge of alcohol and substance was approved by Cabinet last year.

The Programme of Action proposes a number of key actions including legislative review to strengthen our national response. Early this year, the IMC approved the Draft Control of Marketing of Alcohol Beverages Bill, which amongst others, seeks to restrict the marketing and promotion of alcoholic beverages, and will be presented to Cabinet this year before public consultations. Other matters that the IMC will finalise this year include measures to enhance law enforcement such as reductions in the hours of sale of alcohol, substance abuse workplace interventions, as well as a proposal that a person who has consumed alcohol should not drive a vehicle at all.

Our national response is anchored on the National Drug Master Plan, with a strong emphasis on four pillars, namely prevention, early intervention, treatment, after care and reintegration. The National Drug Master Plan serves as the country’s blueprint on tackling this scourge and complements the Anti-Substance Abuse Programme of Action. It is driven mainly by the CDA, a multisectoral and multidisciplinary structure comprising of government, civil society and academic institutions.  All government departments form an integral part of the action against alcohol and substance abuse, within the CDA.

This approach allows for the involvement of all stakeholders from grassroots and community level to the national level. Provinces and national departments are guided by the Plan to formulate mini-Drug Master Plans to implement prevention, early intervention and treatment. The CDA has produced a new five-year National Drug Master Plan (2013-2017) which is currently before Cabinet for consideration.

The CDA is charged with the responsibility to develop and implement a coordinated approach encompassing supply, control and demand reduction programmes.  Provincial Substance Abuse Forums have been established, as well as local drug action committees, which consist of social workers, teachers, justice and police officials and community representatives. While our campaign to combat substance abuse targets all age groups, we prioritise children and the youth, given the fact that the age of experimentation with drugs has dropped to about eight years. Our youth programme, called "Ke moja-I'm fine without drugs" is intended to raise the confidence of young people to enable them to resist peer pressure.

The goal of this programme is to prevent drug use before it starts and to encourage occasional users to stop, and those addicted to seek treatment and rehabilitation. The campaign focuses on primary prevention and targets the underlying causes of drug use among young people. Over time primary prevention campaign will lessen the need for drug treatment services, which are in critically short supply. Currently there are only seven government drug treatment facilities through the country. The aim is to increase this to meet the growing demand for treatment, after care and reintegration services.

The programme is driven mainly by young people and has greater potential to affirm and reinforce the anti-drug attitudes of youth who are not involved in drug use. Government has also enacted the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act, which encompasses a full range of interventions and strategies to combat substance abuse and illicit trafficking. The Act further make provisions for the registration and establishment of programmes and services, including community based services. However, the fight against alcohol and substance abuse cannot be the responsibility of government alone. It is a shared national responsibility that we must fight collectively in order to build a drug-free society. All of us must act together, implementing the National Drug Master Plan and the Anti-Substance Abuse Programme of Action so that young South Africans can live longer and healthier lives.

The programme also empowers parents, educators and school governing body members to be able to identify youth with substance abuse problems for early assistance. We run the programme in partnership with the United Nations Office for Crime and Drug Control (UNODC).

This means engaging and encouraging everyone-parents, teachers, community leaders, and most importantly, young people to say no to alcohol and drugs.  If we fail, the scourge has potential to undermine the consolidation of achievements made in the last nineteen years.

Programme Director,

I remain confident that the battle against this scourge can be won if we work in partnership with members of the civil society in the form of Faith Based Organisations (FBOs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and parents.  We call upon our churches to play their part and speak about the risks and dangers posed by the abuse of drugs and alcohol to the lives of adults and children. Communities and other social partners who have direct contact with our children also have a role in the creation of a drug free society.  Indeed there must be a radical approach from various social sectors to confront and shame the drug lords who sells drugs and other illicit substances in our communities.

The Northern Cape is amongst the provinces with few registered treatment centres. This matter is one of the priorities that will receive our uppermost attention this year. As I conclude, I would like to urge our young people to treat alcohol and substance abuse as a serious matter. As young people in South Africa today, I call on you to join together to say that you will not abuse alcohol and drugs and commit to pursue healthy life styles, including safe sex to protect yourselves from sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and AIDS.

On this important day I would like to urge the youth of Northern Cape and others throughout the country to never allow themselves to be used as tools of destruction by the drug lords and syndicates. Let us all be inspired by the heroic actions of the youth of 1976 and the wisdom of the forbearers of our struggle and work together to further to advance the struggle of young people to attain a better life.

Let us also be inspired by the Eldorado Park community which took decisive action to rid itself of drugs by ensuring that known drug dealers are reported to law enforcement authorities. Working together, we can help our young people make healthy choices. We can encourage them to stay alert, to stay engaged, and to take full advantage of every opportunity that our country has to offer them.

I thank you

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