The National Youth Service a necessity

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BECAUSE of our history of resistance to colonial and imperialist domination, Zimbabwe has remained revolutionary in character.
The National Youth Service has been condemned by some people among us for alleged gross human rights violations by the ruling ZANU-PF party and yet the same Western nations they adore have more rigid and successful youth training programmes of their own in their own countries.
Within Zimbabwe the graduates of the service are known pejoratively as ‘green bombers’ after the uniforms they wear and more recently as the Youth Brigade. The National Youth Service is a programme of the Zimbabwean Government for Zimbabweans of ages 10 to 30.
It was authorised by the 1979 National Service Act, passed by the Government of Zimbabwe Rhodesia under Bishop Abel Muzorewa and only implemented in 2001 under the Presidency of Cde Robert Mugabe.
Its purpose was to “transform and empower youths for nation building through life skills training and leadership development”.
The service instills in young Zimbabweans a sense of national identity and patriotism.
While it proposes to unite people above party lines, it also promotes wariness of “foreign influence and intervention” in national politics.
The opposing view, both inside Zimbabwe and abroad, holds that the service indoctrinates its members with absolute loyalty to ZANU-PF and trains them for military operations to enforce its dominance. The Government has put in place plans to make the programme mandatory for all youths in a move meant to instill patriotic values to Zimbabwean children.
The country has also devised a new national youth service training programme aimed at skills enhancement, patriotism and moral education.
The Government is already implementing a policy that compels school leavers access to tertiary training facilities and civil service employment, including teaching and nursing, after proof of having completed the national service training.
Damning reports from human rights watchdogs that are hostile to Zimbabwe such as Amnesty International, London, and Physicians for Human Rights, Denmark, and Zimbabwean human rights organisations, came out guns blazing criticising the programme, claiming that the youth militia camps are aimed at forcing on all school leavers a ZANU-PF view of Zimbabwean history and the present.
They claimed that all training materials in the camps have, from inception, consisted exclusively of ZANU-PF campaign materials and political speeches.
That the material is crudely racist and vilifies the major opposition party in the country, they added. However, the youth training programme has remained politically non partisan; there is overwhelming evidence of children that are recruited from different backgrounds and immensely benefitting from the programme.
The youths themselves have not been spared the anguish of being called all sorts of names from “green bombers” to terrible “militia”.
However, what these imperialist driven organisations ignored was that these children as rightful heirs to the Zimbabwean heritage have every right to know their own history and to participate in the country’s economic empowerment programmes as well as defend the sovereignty of Zimbabwe, just as Rhodesians did when they forced young men and women through “call ups” to fight against the black man who was waging a war to liberate his fellow blacks. Western countries where these human rights watchdogs come from have a national youth service where their children are required to undergo military training before they embark on careers of their choices.
As a result, when these countries go to war their youths are well equipped with the history of their own country and are ready to defend the sovereignty of their countries, yet in Zimbabwe our children are discouraged by these same agents who underwent national service in their countries.
Furthermore, in contradiction of claims by these same human rights groups that the training was aimed at imparting military skills, military drills including weapons training as major elements of youth training since the first youth intakes, and that all youth should form a reserve force to defend their nation, falling under military command.
The Government recruited all the graduands into different sectors of the civil service, including agriculture, nursing, education and other critical sectors of the economy that require disciplined and well mannered youths with a deep sense of patriotism for their country.
After all there is nothing wrong in learning basic military drills and saluting our elders.
The youths have, since 2002, actively taken part in the implementation of Government programmes in rural areas where they helped and protected villagers from marauding Movement for Democratic Change thugs during campaigns of the Presidential Election, the Rural District Council Elections, parliamentary by-elections, and in the Urban Council Elections.Other roles played by the youths include the provision of labour during Government food distribution through the control of Grain Marketing Board (GMB) sales.
Youth have also been involved in helping in the provision of health care to remote areas around the country on non-politically partisan grounds.
The youths established an excellent relationship with law enforcing agencies including the army and police.
On the whole, this helped them roll out respective Government programmes without the intimidation of opposition parties and other imperialist non-governmental organisations; they tirelessly worked alongside Government agencies in their noble activities.
While some youth who have been through the youth training service are satisfied with their experiences, others have fled the country after having been lured by imperialist Governments and used to demonise the training centres by narrating falsehoods of what happens in the youth training centres and even the nation in order to discredit the programme.
The implications of the current youth militia training for Zimbabwe are commendable indeed.
The legitimacy of providing non- politically partisan training to tens of thousands of youths every year must be hailed by all straight thinking and patriotic Zimbabweans. The social fabric for those who have undergone training has changed through encouraging part of the nation’s youth to be self reliant and become economically responsible citizens who know their history and whose allegiances are entrenched in the revolutionary values of Zimbabwe.
Our youths have been given a legacy through the training they are taught some informative and revolutionary materials that include an anthology of Cde Mugabe’s speeches titled Inside the Third Chimurenga.
The speeches dwell on the land reform programme and revolutionary luminaries and heroes and they have proved more beneficial to many youths who today have a blared history of the land reform and the liberation struggle.

1 COMMENT

  1. are you kidding me right now? National youth service for a ten year old. Do you not know about child soldiers ? Shame on you. I hope its a typo

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