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National Youth Service (Zimbabwe) a disservice!

by Inhokomo Yesizwe SikaMthwakazi
24 Apr 2021 at 09:24hrs | Views
The re-establishment of the National Youth Service in Zimbabwe is uncalled for and an unnecessary disservice. It is totally against ubuntu and the rule of law. The youth militia, infamously known as the Green Bombers, have been a menace to the Zimbabwe society as evidenced by the havoc they caused during the first round of this republic when disposed Robert Mugabe was still in power. If there is anything right that the so-called New Dispensation had done, it was to discontinue the evil programme. Unfortunately, mother crab knows only one way of movement.  Sideways! The violent programme should be condemned in the strongest possible terms by any progressive individuals and organisations, like Inhlokomo Yesizwe.

Zimbabwe at 41 deserves something better. The programme is not only un-welcome for being inherently wrong, but because of its militarisation and politicisation by ZANU-PF. In democracies like South Africa and others, for example, the National Youth Service is a useful tool in a number of ways which aims, among other things, to:

 - Promote social cohesion and build social capital
 - Instil a culture of service to the communities by young people
 - Develop the skills, knowledge and abilities of young people to enable them to make a meaningful transition to adulthood
 - To improve youth employability
    
Rose McGovern, ICP Program Assistant, says that the positive attributes of National Youth Service Policies (NYSPs) are "lauded by practitioners and policy-makers across the globe". However, due to the fact that government is in control, they are open to "misuse and exploitation". This is an undeniable fact in Zimbabwe too. Instead of pursuing the above-stated objectives, the programme will aim at the stark opposite, although its blueprint might appear noble to the unsuspecting eye.

In Zimbabwe the purpose of the programme is vaguely stated as to "transform and empower youths for nation-building through life skills training and leadership development". Previously, the youth have been used as militia to punish political by ZANU-PF. The same is highly applicable today. In the past, the organisation has been condemned by both Africa and the international community. In a bid to paint itself as a reformed party (New Dispensation), ZANU-PF had the organisation banned in January 2018 after the fall of Mugabe. Resuscitating it will obviously skuttle the current but elusive international re-engagement efforts by the  government.

If the programme was viewed as unsuitable in a democracy as recently as 2018, what has changed now, just a year towards the 2023 elections? The Solidarity Peace Trust, in an article captioned: National Youth Training- "Shaping youths in a truly Zimbabwean manner" dated September 5, 2003, indicates that overwhelming evidence showed that the youth militia camps are "aimed at forcing on all school leavers a ZANU-PF view of Zimbabwean history and the present". We too, subscribe to that view. As the country claims to be celebrating its 41st independence from Britain, the idea of such an undemocratic programme should be embarrassing, to say the least. The article further quotes the then Minister of Defence as saying that the "youth service should be compulsory, involve weapons training, and that all youths should form a reserve force to defend their nation, falling under military command". This should be enough to sound alarm bells to anybody who knows what the opposition and ordinary people outside ZANU-PF experienced in subsequent elections including the 2008 presidential run-off.

The Solidarity Peace Trust also states: "The youth militia have, since January 2002, become one of the most commonly reported violations of human rights, with accusations… including murder, torture, rape, and destruction of property". The violence of these youth militia has left the globe shell-shocked in the past, resulting in sanctions being imposed on Zimbabwe. We strongly think that the country does not deserve such uncultured youths who have caused the it immeasurable suffering and the freefall decomposition of the economy.

Although the Chronicle publication of 21 April, 2021, glowingly claims that the National Youth Service is in line with the African Youth Charter and the Southern African Development Community framework, as well as Vision 2030, the its re-introduction spells doom for the country. Unquestionably, the Zimbabwe chapter does not and will never meet the democratic and civil standards of the Charter or Vision 2030. Only real democracies are capable of that.

We, as Inhlokomo Yesizwe Sika Mthwakazi categorically reject the re-establishment of the programme because we are aware that it is to be used as a tool of the exploitation and subjugation of the ordinary citizenry. It could be another way of trying to silence the people of Mthwakazi during the current, though shabby, discourse and outreach on the Gukurahundi genocide. We therefore, demand that the programme be abandoned because it is a disservice in all aspects of its design and intent.

We stand firm in solidarity with those who lost their loved ones to these returning Green Bombers, and do not wish the number of victims to increase by any margin.

By: Inhokomo Yesizwe SikaMthwakazi
(Information and Publicity Desk)



Source - Inhokomo Yesizwe SikaMthwakazi

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