Youths gone wild: Government vs parents in Zimbabwe’s drug-filled “vuzu parties”

Teenagers hold these alcohol and drug-filled parties on the first weekend after the school term ends -Police
Youths gone wild: Government vs parents in Zimbabwe's drug-filled "vuzu parties"

131 young Zimbabweans with an average age of 16 were arrested by police on Saturday night in the nation’s second largest city, Bulawayo, as they were allegedly headed to a special edition of the infamous ‘Vuzu Parties”. The “Vuzu Parties” are parties where young people get together to consume alcohol, drugs and engage in sexual activities. 

“We discovered alcohol, drugs and used condoms”, reported the spokesman for Bulawayo police Inspector Adebnico Ncube, who also confirmed that those among the arrested were 15 teenage girls and a 13 year old.

According to police, teenagers in Bulawayo have developed a culture of holding these alcohol and drug-filled parties on the first weekend after the school term ends, and on the last weekend before school terms commence.

Police used that intelligence to set up roadblocks around the city, where, in one incident, a commuter omnibus containing 25 teenagers was impounded. The bus contained several types of alcohol, cannabis, condoms and sex enhancing pills.

Items obtained from the arrested teenagers by the
Zimbabwe Republic Police.

Many of those arrested were booked in for “criminal nuisance and public drinking”. Dozens have since been released as police battled to meet with the 48-hour detention deadline for suspects. Three of the arrested were sentenced to three months in prison, which was wholly suspended on condition that they complete 105 hours of community service. Other minors were released to their parents and guardians.

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The nation has reacted in shock and disgust at the revelation of how these parties have become a norm for teenagers in Bulawayo. This has also sparked a debate online as to who is responsible for creating an environment where these types of gatherings can fester.

Mabutho appealed directly to government ministers, saying;

“Minister Kirsty Coventry, what happened in Bulawayo is a symptom of idleness. The Ministry should urgently revive our Youth Centres, a functional Zimbabwe Youth Council can also be part of the solution”

“At what point do parents and guardians take responsibility? The government should not raise your child for you. First things first, morals are nurtured at home”, were the contrasting sentiments of Velaphi Masilela.

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“I blame the situation back at home. Most parents are out of the country and not with their children. Parents are trying to compensate for their absence by sending lots of money to the kids. The result is kids having more money than they require, they will use it for drugs, beer, etc.”, tweeted Beven Garanganga on behalf of those observing the situation from the diaspora.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police has decided to engage in an “Anti-Vuzu Party” campaign within schools. “We have lined up several anti-Vuzu campaigns in schools targeting school children, particularly in secondary and high schools. However, in the long run, we want to include children in primary schools mainly because we have observed this group of children partaking in these parties”, said Inspector Ncube.

The weekend arrests were however criticised by the Zimbabwe Civil Lberties and Drug Network (ZCLDN) who are directly involved in fighting the infiltration of drug use in communities.

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They believe “arresting these youths will also toughen them to engage in criminal activities and this will affect their future. We, therefore, urge the police to investigate the source of these drugs and arrest the suppliers who are benefitting from the selling of these illicit drugs while the health and lives of the youths and other people who use drugs are at risk.”

It is clear that the nation stands divided in identifying the true causal factors behind this particular rebellious streak from Bulawayo’s young generation.

However, there is hope that the universal condemnation of this behavior will reveal a timely solution.

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