Multi-sectoral approach needed to tackle drugs, gansterism

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini says a ‘multi-sectoral’ approach is required to tackle the scourge of drugs and gangsterism in communities.

She said this when Ministers in the Social Cluster fielded questions in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Drugs and gangs are the twin challenges confronting many of our communities throughout the country. You will agree with me that to successfully tackle these challenges, our interventions must start with our most basic unit in our community � the family.

Aside from the family, there should also be initiatives from schools and the community as a whole because everyone should be involved in the fight against substance abuse and gangsterism. It should be community driven initiatives more particularly because the issues of drugs are structural. Sometimes they thrive where there is poverty, she said.

The department has developed an anti-gansterism strategy, including facilities which cater for children in conflict with the law.

The Minister said the strategy is built on four pillars – human development, social partnership, spatial design and the criminal justice process.

The overriding pillar of the strategy is a multi-partnership approach aimed at creating safe living spaces within communities.

For this reason, we are encouraging municipalities to establish and implement local drug action committees and such structures, empower communities to respond through various initiatives such as ke moja � I am fine without drugs, she said.

The Central Drug Authority, a multi-sectoral structure established to advise Cabinet on plans and measures to combat the scourge, developed the National Drug Master Plan 2013-17 to tackle the issue of drugs.

To this end, Cabinet established the Inter-Ministerial Committee to combat the scourge of alcohol and substance abuse in South Africa.

The IMC has developed its programme of action which supports the multi-sectoral approach focussing on prevention through community mobilisation because prevention is the most basic and important element of this programme, she said.

The Minister said strategies and policies alone were not enough to tackle drugs and substance abuse.

We need greater cooperation and collaboration but also the way we talk on the issues of drugs like using the phrase ‘war on drugs’ has failed because if you talk about war, people interpret it differently.

We need to come up with strategies that are going to help us get into the minds and hearts of our communities. Strategies that are going to help with the issues of addiction, gang violence and so on, she said.

Source: South African Government News Agency