Zimbabwe

Zanu-PF govt approves return of ‘Green Bombers’ as 2023 elections loom

The youth militia gained notoriety for perpetrating violence against opposition supporters as Zanu-PF shock troops during election campaigns.

Cabinet yesterday approved the reintroduction of the National Youth Service training programme, which was previously accused of being behind a Zanu PF militia that terrorised opposition members.

The programme, whose cadets were commonly referred to as green bombers due to their conspicuous uniform, were introduced in 2000 by the late former youth minister and Zanu-PF political commissioner, Border Gezi.

Following an alleged reign of terror especially during Zimbabwe’s chaotic land reform exercise and harmonised elections, the National Youth Service was discontinued in 2009.

However, the ruling party passed a resolution to bring back the green bombers at its 17th annual people’s conference held in Esigodini on 2018.

Speaking during yesterday’s post-Cabinet press brief, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the reintroduction of the programme came after wider consultations.

“The proposal came as a result of consultations between the ministries of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation; and Defence and War Veterans Affairs.

“Cabinet noted that national youth service is an important youth development programme which is crucial in nurturing young people into becoming responsible and resilient citizens with a clear sense of national identity and respect for national values.

“The programme is a key strategy for youth empowerment in national, regional, continental and international development guiding frameworks to which Zimbabwe is a member.

“The frameworks include the Sadc Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan; the African Youth Charter of 2006; the World Programme of Action on Youth; and the United Nations Youth Strategy 2030,” Mutsvangwa said.

Besides being accused of working with the police, army and the secret service to perpetrate human rights abuses during their existence, the green bombers were also accused of being the vehicle through which some bigwigs placed ghost workers on the government’s wage bill.

Mutsvangwa said during training, the youths will be encouraged to participate in development projects and disaster response activities and thereby assist in enhancing national capacity to manage disasters.

“The programme is designed to equip youths, who comprise persons between the ages of 18 and 35 years, with patriotism, discipline, volunteerism, survival skills, hard work, loyalty, tolerance, resilience, determination and honesty.

“The Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (Number 20) Act provides that all institutions and agencies of Government at all levels must take reasonable measures, including affirmative action, to ensure that youths have access to appropriate education and training, that they participate in social, economic and other spheres of life, and that they are empowered and protected from harmful practices, exploitation and abuse,” Mutsvangwa said.

She also said the graduates of the programme will qualify for further training, assistance in starting businesses, and for enrolment for careers in the police, army, air force, nursing and teaching, among others.

“Cabinet further agreed that under the revamped programme, vocational training centres across all the provinces will focus on entrepreneurship and livelihood skills training.

“This will encompass enterprise awareness, opportunity identification, project financing, and basic farming. The Civil Protection Unit will place emphasis on disaster mitigation and management skills.

“The roll-out of the National Youth Service programme will involve community attachment of youths for work experience and service to various government departments and local authorities.

“The programme will also take on board the disabled, and maintain gender balance and fair regional representation, with recruitment taking place through district offices.

“Cabinet further resolved that the National Youth Service programme will be funded by the government, upon enactment of the necessary law. The programme shall also be mandated to generate its own income through engagement in commercial activities.

“The youths will not pay fees but will be provided with uniforms, training kit and travel expenses, and will be accorded allowances as the economy improves,” she said.

The programme, whose cadets were commonly referred to as green bombers due to their conspicuous uniform, were introduced in 2000 by the late former Youth minister and Zanu PF political commissioner Border Gezi.

Following an alleged reign of terror especially during Zimbabwe’s chaotic land reform exercise and harmonised elections, the National Youth Service was discontinued in 2009.

However, the ruling party passed a resolution to bring back the green bombers at its 17th annual people’s conference held in Esigodini on 2018. – Daily News.

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