Ms Ll Van Der Merwe Mp (IFP)
Our nation stands at a moral crossroads. Drug use in South Africa is twice the global average. In alcohol consumption, we are among the top 10. We know that substance abuse increases both violence and risky sexual behaviour. And it’s not just adults who are doing it.
This is not a hidden social evil. Daily, our newspapers carry the individual stories that represent what is happening across our country, in every community.
We know about the woman who is forced to use her social grant to buy her husband’s Nyope fix, while her children go hungry. We know about the neglected babies whose mothers are high, and the men who sell their children to sexual predators for a fix. We know that drug lords are often alerted before police raids, and that some officers are dealers and users. We know that grandmothers are forced to hide drugs for gangs, or their grandchildren will be murdered. We know that drunk drivers kill.
What has led us down this path of self-destruction?
The easy answer is: poverty, desperation, and despair – created by failed economic policies and high unemployment. But there are undercurrents too, of abandoned values, eroded morality, and a loss of personal responsibility.
The solutions presently in place are failing.
Relying on ad hoc imbizos – where communities can vent their frustration – is rather like making sure the band is still playing, while the Titanic sinks.
The Central Drug Authority reports that many municipalities are failing to implement the National Drug Master Plan, and have allocated neither personnel nor budget to fighting substance abuse at local level. Provincial and national departments are lackadaisical in submitting reports on their implementation of the Drug Master Plan, and coordinated programmes across the various spheres of government are lacking. At the most basic level, there are not enough public treatment centres for addicts who want to recover.
Clearly, a lack of political will, competence, and resources is hindering our effectiveness in this fight.
We need to strengthen and resource the CDA; hold departments to account for fulfilling their mandate; crackdown on rogue police officers; and outlaw taverns near schools.
But our defensive actions must also be strengthened. Without preventative measures, the tide will not turn.
Let us tell learners what substance abuse does to their bodies, minds, creativity, relationships, and potential. And let’s offer positive alternatives, including sports facilities and youth groups, to fulfil the need for affirmation, entertainment, self-expression, and peer acceptance.
The IFP advocates values that strengthen the family. We believe in incentivising self-discipline, rewarding positive behaviour, such as academic achievement, involvement in community awareness programmes, and completing parenting courses, or treatment for addiction.
However, Honourable Speaker, our single most effective act would be installing a government that can create jobs.