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Green Bombers Zanu-PF's election trump card

16 Apr 2021 at 07:37hrs | Views
ZANU PF government's hunger to retain power at all costs has reached unprecedented levels as evidenced by its recent decision to reintroduce the controversial National Youth Service training programme.

The programme was introduced by the late former President Robert Mugabe in 2001.

Graduates from the National Youth Service training centres became notorious for unleashing terror on opposition party supporters. The militia was code-named Border Gezi, after the late former Youth minister and Zanu-PF commissar by the same name, because of its ruthlessness. They went on a reign of terror during the 2008 election which left thousands of MDC-T supporters either dead or permanently injured.

As a result of the bloodbath, opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of the presidential run-off election citing systematic persecution of his supporters, resulting in Mugabe being declared winner of a "sham" election.

After the international community refused to recognise his victory, Mugabe was forced into a coalition government with Tsvangirai.

The militia went underground at the inception of the Government of National Unity in 2009 and the training programme stopped.

Now, Zanu-PF has gone a gear up in its quest to consolidate power by using every arsenal at its disposal, including resurrecting the National Youth Service training to help drum up support ahead of the 2023 polls.

In essence, the National Youth Service should be a voluntary training programme for vocational skills, disaster management, patriotism and moral education. But in Zimbabwe, products of this programme have become a paramilitary force for Zanu-PF.

The reintroduction of the National Youth Service shows that the Zanu-PF government has misplaced priorities. Instead of channelling the country's scant resources towards education, health, conditions of service for civil servants and infrastructure development, it is preoccupied with organising a militia that has a history of perpetrating violence on the opposition during elections.

Government should invest in uplifting the standards of living for the youth, whose majority are living in abject poverty and are struggling to cope amid unaffordable education, lack of access to healthcare and forced migration due to limited unemployment opportunities.

Government should rethink its decision as it has the potential to backfire and have dire consequences. Otherwise it will be a case of being hoist by own petard.

Source - newsday
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