South Africa: The Public Service Commission, in collaboration with the Office of the Premier in the Free State, hosted the Citizens’ Forum on Drugs and Substance Abuse in communities at Kopano Nokeng Lodge, Bloemfontein, on 29 November 2022.
The Citizens’ Forum was held in an effort to come up with tangible solutions to help curb the scourge of substance abuse that is ravaging and ripping communities apart. The Forum was a culmination of consultative engagements between the government and citizens.
The Department of Social Development was one of the key stakeholders, along with Home Affairs, SAPS, NPA, NGO and the community members.
Heads of departments (HODs) from different departments in the Province gave a comprehensive analysis of the types of challenges their departments are facing respectively.
The Acting HOD, Advocate TJ Phahlo, outlined the role of the Department of Social Development in combating the use of drugs and substance abuse; he also explained the policy and legal framework of the Department. “Unemployment, poverty, lack of recreational facilities, food insecurity, etc., are often the major contributors of drugs and substance abuse; we need the intensification of coordinated and proactive campaigns to curb the supply of drugs in our communities,” Advocate TJ Phahlo said.
Drugs and substance abuse is prevalent in all communities, and the most common and prolific substances in the Province were identified as marijuana, mandrex, nyaope, tik, heroin, cocaine and unspecified substances.
MEC for Social Development Mme Motlagomang “Mamiki” Qabathe thanked all commissioners that were present and handed out blankets and a certificate of authenticity as a token of appreciation. “We want to give you the warmth of the Free State through these blankets, which have the face of our liberators,” the MEC said.
There was also a dialogue between the members of the community and government stakeholders where members were raising their grievances and challenges they were facing in the community.
One community member highlighted the plight of unfunded NPOs and requested the MEC to closely monitor the funded NPOs and see if they were providing services that the Department was funding them for. To this, MEC Qabathe responded that the Director General had allocated the Department interns who will assist NPOs in compliance matters as well as financial management to ensure the funds from the Department are used for the purpose they are meant for.