The SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) has been urged to decriminalise the use of narcotics and focus on treating drug addicts instead of jailing them.
This was the message coming out from the recently held forum, where several experts on narcotic drug usage in Africa recommended publicly to the parliamentarians to draft laws that would ensure the descriminilisation and destigmatisation of narcotics use.
According to the experts, the only way to arrest the drug problem is to come up with policies that ensure that drug use is treated as a public health issue and not as a criminal issue.
Botswana’s current drug policy is largely motivated by the concern that substance abuse is a danger to society. SADC-PF parliamentarians admitted that with the exception of Tanzania, all other SADC-PF member states do not have specific programmes to treat drug addicts so that they can be integrated into society once rehabilitated.
Although there was no consensus, it was generally agreed that SADC should solicit for more funds and help treat drug addicts. Poverty and unemployment were some of the factors that were blamed for the drug use, the most common being cannabis, cocaine, nyaope and ecstasy.
The SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) was chartered to bring about convergence of economic, political, and social values in the SADC and help create the appropriate environment for deeper regional cooperation through popular participation.