By Miko Zulu
Last week a 19 year old girl Mutika Mungwila of Ndola was sentenced to 10 years in prison with hard labour for use of Marijuana. The female High Court Judge in her rightful senses said it was the only way possible for the convict to stop smoking the herb. Really!
Personally I found the sentence to be too harsh for the girl despite being a second offender.
Questions need to be asked as to who the fight against drugs is being directed by the Drug Enforcement Commission because its seems the entire operation and existence of the commission is based on arresting simple marijuana users and peasant farmers who fill the country’s prisons while the major drug lords go untouchable.
Zambia has no poppy field anywhere yet we have seen an influx of actual drugs like Cocaine and Heroin flood neighbourhoods and night clubs. These drugs are most definitely flown into the country by sophisticated syndicates who make millions of dollars while creating junkies of youths.
These are serious human rights issues which border on selective judgement and application of the law.
Agreeable, addicts need to be reformed but let’s ask ourselves how many rehabilitation centres have been created by the DEC or Ministry of Health? Is DEC just about fighting marijuana and showing the donors that they have secured so many convictions or should more be done to fish out the actual big fishes?
Did the DEC or anyone offer help to Mutika after her first arrest?
While many progressive countries are legalizing the use of marijuana for medical, industrial and recreational use, the DEC has continued to dehumanise and criminalise marijuana (herb) users who mostly use the herb in their personal confinement. The Rastafarian community has not been spared despite herb being an integral part of their spiritual and religious right.
As for the youths, drug use and addiction should be seen as a psycho-social issue as opposed to it being a criminal one. We cannot continue labeling our people as criminals just to please the donors. Our prisons don’t reform, they simply harden offenders and waste lives.
Marijuana laws need to be revised because you cannot call everyone who possesses 0.4 grammes (not Kg) of a natural plant as a drug trafficker. It is simply inhumane.
Serious crimes are being committed in this country yet our focus is on helpless young people. It would be interesting to hear what the women’s movements and human rights defenders have to say about this case.