ZIMBABWEANS have started an online petition against government's planned reintroduction of the controversial National Youth Service Training Programme in the country.
This comes after government announced at Tuesday's post-cabinet media briefing in Harare it had approved the resuscitation the training programme abandoned in 2018.
The proposal was tabled by Youth Minister, Kirsty Coventry.
The petition being shared online was started by one Tolerant Mutaki under the title, "No to the Youth National Service Programme in Zimbabwe aka Green Bombers".
In less than a day since it was up, the petition had garnered over 1 300 signatures.
It is addressed to government, Sports and Youths minister Kirsty Coventry and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).
In the petition, Mutaki claims the ruling Zanu PF party had in the past used members of the training programme to unleash terror against political opponents.
"The youths national service programme was used before as a political tool by the ruling party (ZANU PF) and the government of Zimbabwe to fight the opposition parties and their supporters through violence and serial manslaughter.
"Clear reference can be taken from the violence of past election seasons like the 2008 election, the green bombers were used by Mugabe the then president of Zimbabwe to torture, kill, assault, abduct and silence the opposition supporters in a move to try and influence the election results.
"Most of the recruits of this political tool disguising as a youth empowerment programme were involuntarily recruited and were then taught to be aggressive and heartless.
"Skills to torture, assault, group rape and kill victims were taught to these new recruits.
"They were never given an option to opt out when they felt like so, running away wasn't an option either as that was like signing up for a death sentence and no further investigations would be done."
The scandalous programme which drew criticism from human rights activists was established in the early 2000s by former Youth Minister, Border Gezi.
It was discontinued in 2007 due to lack of funding but it resumed in 2017 under then youth minister Patrick Zhuwao.
The programme was later cancelled early 2018 following the removal of former President Robert Mugabe from power.
Graduates of the training programme, derisively referred to as 'Green Bombers' because of their green uniform, were allegedly used to cow members of opposition through violence.