Religious and traditional leaders have ganged up by expressing their support to government’s efforts in reducing excessive alcohol consumption in the country.
This has been revealed through separate interviews which Malawi24 conducted with Deputy Presbytery Clerk of Lilongwe Presbytery of the Church of Central African Presbyterian (C.C.A.P) Synod of Livingstonia Reverend Timothy Nyirenda and Senior Chief Kachere of Dedza.
Nyirenda noted that although government put much effort in reducing the habit by launching the national alcohol policy, there is an increase in alcohol consumption among the youth something which he said needs various stakeholders to be resolved.
Nyirenda said the C.C.A.P Synod of Livingstonia particularly Lilongwe Presbytery is currently working together with government in areas of youth development, health and education in order to make young Malawians busy so that they should stop taking alcohol in various drinking joints.
“The Synod of Livingstonia especially Lilongwe Presbytery has already started initiating some programs that will help the youth to grow in spiritual development and also curb the kind of problem that the government and the whole country is meeting.
“Drunkenness and drug abuse is one thing the government and organisations cannot do, they need the church and the church needs to be at the centre of it all because we need to take the youths to Jesus Christ,” he said,
He added that the Synod will continue bringing youths together in all areas where it has congregation including Dedza so that at the end they should be brought to Jesus Christ which is the main purpose of the church in Malawi.
Concurring with him, one of the well-known Ngoni chiefs in Dedza Senior Chief Kachere said giving young people things to do will help to reduce the habit since they will be busy with their respective works.
“A lot of young people engage themselves into drug and substance abuse just because they have nothing to do, if we are to give them the chance to engage them into farming in gardens and other irrigation schemes they can surely stop this,” he said.
Kachere revealed that he has set bylaws which among other things bars drinking joints in residential areas hence relocating to trading centres.
According to Kachere, the development will help to ensure that there is security and no abuse of other people’s rights in the area.
This comes in barely 3 months after Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi launched the national alcohol policy in the area of Inkosi Kamenyagwaza in Dedza with a call for various stakeholders to support government’s efforts to regulate excessive alcohol consumption among many Malawians.
The area of Chief Kamenyagwaza in the district was spotted as one of the areas where people consume a lot of alcohol resulting in increasing cases of gender based violence and assault.
Commenting on the development, Dedza district magistrate Enet Jiya Banda expressed worry over increased offences caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
“Drug and substance abuse affects us a lot because the people we receive complain that madam magistrate I did this because I was drunk, seeing that the victim is very injured, the whole arm is cut off, what they say is I was drunk,” Jiya said.
She added that some parents and guardians are failing to take responsibility of caring for their children.
“Even in marriages, others get married before 18 and then they get tired of each other. What usually happens is that the woman goes for drinking and the father as well, they leave children without food, sometimes they even take the substance to give to the children they are carrying on their backs.
“This is unwelcome development and hazardous to the young ones,” she said.
Currently, according to Ministry of Health, statistics show that 30 percent of men and 4 percent of women between the ages of 24 and 64 are drinkers.
The data also show that 19 percent men and two percent of women are heavy drinkers.