Pambuka turns life around, joins anti-drugs fight 

Source: Pambuka turns life around, joins anti-drugs fight | The Sunday Mail

Pambuka turns life around, joins anti-drugs fight

Tendai Rupapa in KOTWA

“AFTER washing a baby, one does not throw away the bucket water and the infant. Just because the bath water is dirty and due to be let out, there is no point throwing out the baby too.”

The above statement aptly captures why people should not discard something valuable while disposing of something undesirable.

This speaks to the life of veteran newscaster Oscar Pambuka, a drug and substance abuse survivor.

Drugs ruined his life and career but he is not shy to come out in the open to speak against drugs and saving lives, thanks to the First Lady, Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, who gave him another chance.

Amai Mnangagwa believes survivors of drug abuse need to be embraced and welcomed back into the communities because for some, recovery means going back in time, reconnecting with who they were before drugs and taking back their career and life that addiction stole from them.

She also says people should not throw away something good when they are getting rid of something bad.

After building a career that was an envy of many, fame got into the head of the former news anchor at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and he soon started taking drugs after having befriended the wrong people. Eventually, he lost his job and ended up behind bars after countless brushes with the law.

Pambuka soon lost the confidence of the people.

After doing his time in jail, the First Lady took him under her wing and gave him a second chance to preach to the younger generation about the effects of drug and substance abuse.

He has been addressing communities, especially youths, against drugs at the First Lady’s programmes.

Last week, the mother of the nation, who has undying love for mankind and the quest to see the best in others, placed Pambuka on the podium in Kotwa during a health outreach programme. Pambuka shared his life story with the youths in Mashonaland East as part of a well-calculated move to train children to stay away from drugs.

“In 2016, I got involved with bad friends and we started abusing drugs. I abused mutoriro (crystal meth) to the extent that I lost weight from 71kg to 51kg in three months. Mutoriro is a dangerous drug. In Zimbabwe, a lot of youths are abusing this drug,” Pambuka said.

“When I started abusing drugs, I started having mental instability. What saved me was the time I stayed in jail. There are no drugs there. If only I had not been arrested and stayed in jail, maybe I could have died by now. I even lost my job as a news anchor. Drug abuse is bad. For me to be here sharing these testimonies is by the grace of God. So, to the youth, I say please, say no to drug abuse,” he said.

He went on to salute the First Lady for her endless efforts in the fight against drug and substance abuse, as well as giving him support after he came out of jail.

“I want to thank you Amai for accepting me. I had no job as people shunned me as I had just come out of jail but Amai you stood and supported me. Now, I am back on my feet and back to my media profession. Amai, you are a godsend; you are an angel. As you know, Amai has an organisation called Angel of Hope, so she is the angel. If Amai had not given me her support, I do not think I was going to be accepted easily in the community.

“Let me say to the youth, stay away from drugs. President Mnangagwa is on record urging youths to have zero tolerance to drug abuse. If youths continue on this wrong path, the future of this nation would be doomed. So, I want to thank you, our First Lady, for your interventions aimed at grooming morally upright citizens,” he said to thunderous applause.

During an interview, responding to a question on how he got the confidence to speak out without any restrictions, Pambuka said: “I can’t say its fearlessness, but it’s the powerful encouragement which has come from the First Lady. To be honest, if it wasn’t for the First Lady, Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, I don’t think this confidence would be there. With her help, with her assistance, with her guidance, not after prison — but even while I was under incarceration, she used to motivate me. She used to empower me with words to the effect that Oscar you are a powerful force to reckon with, you should readjust your thinking patterns. She helped me a lot and I took this into cognisance and wherever I am going countrywide, people are saying I am back into my rightful place and I am walking with Amai. The presence of the First Lady, to me, has ignited a lot of hope and hunger for success because she has rejuvenated my character and I salute Amai,” he said.

He also thanked the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service, referring to it as a rehabilitation centre.

“I also salute what has been done by the prison facility because it instilled discipline and killed the craving for drugs. One year in prison was quite helpful,” Pambuka said.

What he went through personally, Pambuka said, has inspired him to impart wisdom and understanding to the youths.

Asked how he was coping with life without drugs, Pambuka thundered: “If you once used drugs, most people find it difficult to stop. I am glad that I am a changed person. I am personally grateful. Ever since I left college (prison), I was welcomed with love and it pleased me.

“I am always busy because of the First Lady’s anti-drug abuse programmes, which I am part of, as I traverse the length and breadth of the country giving hope to others. Amai’s love and presence have helped people welcome me. She is an agent of restoration in my life,” he said.

The veteran broadcaster also spoke about how his family and community were treating him.

“I should be grateful to God because I was welcomed well. Remember, we started talking about drugs in prison, so they saw the videos where I apologised to the nation. I was welcomed well and my involvement with the First Lady’s programmes strengthened me. I no longer have idle time and our mother has no time for naughty people. She is a motivating factor and I am now as busy as a bee,” he said.

On whether he could still work as he used to do before drugs, he said: “The fact that I once used drugs does not prevent me from working well. If you were an accountant, you can still do your work. Given a chance, I can go back to the old Oscar Pambuka who appeared on your screens every day.”

Pambuka recited some of his former lines on television and said he truly had the mojo.

“It can be the Melting Pot, the burying of national heroes, news reading on radio and television, or farming programmes, it’s still in me and I pray that one day, something will happen. And if I get back the opportunity, Zimbabwe, I tell you, you will never be disappointed,” he said confidently.

Mashonaland East provincial medical director Dr Paul Matsvimbo expressed gratitude to Dr Mnangagwa for her health-related interventions and programmes, saying her role was enhancing community awareness on drug abuse.

The initiatives, he said, raise awareness by educating communities on the drug abuse problem and its associated impact, make communities realise that the problem is real therefore elevating risk perceptions of communities and destigmatise the drug abuse problem. This also helps victims to seek care.

He said that bringing drug abuse survivors like Pambuka gives people hope that this problem can be conquered.

“Such an intervention though appears to be simple but can be life-changing. This intervention comes at a time when we as a province we are intensifying our fight against this menace. Last year alone we recorded 2041 cases of drug and substance abuse induced Psychosis.

“This year alone in the first quarter we have recorded 521 cases of drugs and substance abuse induced psychosis (466 males and 55 females) . These statistics show us that we now have a new epidemic of drug abuse. Therefore, community awareness campaigns by the First Lady are essential. Such rural areas like Mudzi are not spared since they recorded 22 cases drug-induced psychosis in the first quarter so Amai in her awareness campaigns is not leaving anyone behind and today’s awareness talk by Oscar courtesy of Amai will go a long way to influence and energize communities to fight against drug abuse,” Dr Matsvimbo said.

The campaign also gives families of the affected hope that this can be conquered.

Some youths, from Mudzi who are members of the Kotwa Massive music group performed songs that praised the First Lady for her stance against drugs.

They confirmed that youth in their communities were also abusing drugs which prompted them to pen songs that denounce drug and substance abuse.

In an interview on the sidelines of the free medical outreach, Mathias Mambara (30) said drug and substance abuse is rife, not only in Mudzi district but across the province and youths are the most affected.

“I am happy to be here at a programme made possible by our mother, Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa. What makes me happy is that the First Lady always appeals to youths to shun drugs. She is always encouraging us to live a healthy life and work towards achieving Vision 2030.

“I want to thank the First Lady for being there for us as youths. As a youth, I want to call on my colleagues to live a healthy life and avoid abusing drugs. A lot of youths in our province are abusing drugs and substances, so our songs are designed to educate them on the dangers of abusing drugs,” he said.

Another youth Emmanuel Kativhu (20) thanked the First Lady for always encouraging them to have zero tolerance for drug abuse adding that drug abuse is killing youths and robbing the nation of future leaders.

“Youths, say no to drugs. I have a relative who was abusing drugs, but one day he listened to what our First Lady is always teaching us and he stopped. Now he is living a healthy life.

“Every time after he took illicit drugs, he would act weirdly. However, I want to thank the First Lady for her love and teachings because my relative is well now. Thank you Amai,” he said. Fidelis Mangirande (22) also applauded the First Lady for the fight against drug abuse.

“We always learn a lot of things from our First Lady. Thank you, Amai for remembering the people of Mudzi. We are grateful for your love, especially to us youths.

“My advice to fellow youths is to avoid drug abuse. Please let us join hands and fight it. Imagine someone who is a learner at a high school engaging in drug abuse, it is so sad given the hard-earned money parents pay for their children’s school fees. Its painful to see youths wasting their future.

“So to youths, please let us adhere to what the First Lady is teaching us,” he said.

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