On March 11, 2022, a local soccer coach claimed in The Chronicle newspaper that 80% of soccer players in the country take drugs, especially Broncleer. He said drug use among soccer players has increased due to the Covid-19 pandemic which among its restrictions barred local soccer matches that resulted in idleness among players. The coach indicated that some of the supporters were involved in the trading of the drugs and substances.
He also claimed to know one player from a top Bulawayo soccer team who uses drugs. As Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (ZCLDN), an organisation that advocates for the effective strategies for addressing problems associated with use of drugs in Zimbabwe, we believe that the story could be misleading and stigmatising. Reporting on drug or substance use requires sensitivity and responsibility from journalists and the media. The issue of drug use should not be sensationalised or glamorised as was the case of the story in question which was titled 80% of Zim players on drugs. Zimbabwe does not have official data on drug or substance use because a population size estimate has never been done before although anecdotal evidence points to a lot of illicit drug use on the ground in the country.
ZCLDN is working with relevant authorities to come up with data on drug and substance use in Zimbabwe which in future could be used in areas of programming, advocacy and news reporting.
Lately, ZCLDN has noticed an increase in reporting on drug use in Zimbabwe, which is highly commendable, but we believe the issue of drugs when reported is sensationalised and stigmatisation is the order of the day.
By claiming to know one of the players taking drugs, there is some form of stigmatisation. At ZCLDN, we believe the media can responsibly report on drug/substance use through fact-checking and highlighting risk-factors and the damage drug/substance use cause in society without sensationalising.