Itai Muzondo in Gweru
13 March 2017, GWERU – Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment; Patrick Zhuwao has reaffirmed his commitment to the National Youth Service (NYS), saying the programme’s graduates, derisively known as ‘Green Bombers’, are here to stay.
Zhuwao’s comments are a form of defiance to calls by opposition parties and civic groups for the disbandment of the programme which they say has always produced not disciplined patriots but marauding partisan storm troopers at the service of Zanu PF.
“Everyone should be reminded that the NYS is provided for in Section 20 of the constitution meaning it is going nowhere,” Zhuwao told TellZim News.
Section 20 does indeed give room for one or more youth programmes through an act of parliament but it also says the programme(s) should be ‘inclusive, nonpartisan and national in character.’
“We are actually putting resources to have all six NYS training centres reopened. The revamping of the service will not stop. In 2014, we churned out 109 graduates, in 2015 we had 320, in 2016; 320 graduated and this year, we are looking forward to have 1 260 graduates,” Zhuwao said..
He challenged Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) director and prominent rights activist, Jestina Mukoko – who is intensely opposed to the programme – to visit his offices for clarifications.
“I know it was something said by the ZPP so I want to understand what their concerns are and I want to explain to them what the national youth service is about. This also goes to anyone else who wants to understand the acceptability of any particular programme.
“Concerned people should also visit NYS camps and see what happens there because zvekutaura kwausina kuswera hazvibatsire and for me to engage someone I don’t know ndanzwa nemapepa kuti kitsiyatota ati chakati hazvibatsiri. Kitsiyatota ngaauye titaurirane,” Zhuwawo added.
The National Youth Service was launched in 2000 by the late Zanu PF national commissar; Border Gezi with the first camp established at Mt Darwin.
According to the United States Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010, the NYS, which was suspended in 2007 due to lack of funding, provided militia training to approximately 80 000 youths at more than 150 camps.
President Robert Mugabe has on numerous occasions defended the service, saying the training programme is necessary to instill national pride, discipline and moral uprightness in the youth.politics