Zimbabwe: National Youth Service a Reminder of Dark Past

(File photo).
16 April 2021

Youth organisations in the country have said the re-introduction of the National Youth Service is a reminder of a dark past which the Government should first address.

This comes after Cabinet on Tuesday approved the re-introduction of the youth service after it was presented by Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry.

In a joint statement, the organisations said the re-introduction of serves as a reminder of dark memories of the past which was characterised by violence and intimidation.

"Government must address the previous injustices carried out by the infamous National Youth Service and undertake a consultative process before the reintroduction of the Youth Service.

"We note with concern the reintroduction of the National Youth Service commonly referred to as 'Green Bombers' by the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation. The reintroduction in the current political environment serves as nothing but a reminder of dark memories of an ugly past.

"The approval for reintroduction devoid of a consultative process with the public is symptomatic of a Government divorced from the realities of its citizens. The introduction of the Youth Service should be tested by means of public consultations. Transparency, justice, and responsiveness underpin the principles of good governance and the decision taken by the Minister, lacks responsiveness to the socio-economic and political needs of the youths," noted the organisations.

The youth organisations said if previous injustices are not dealt with, there is a likelihood of a violent motivated election in 2023.

"If no steps are taken to address the previous injustices carried out by members of the National Youth Service, the risk of election-motivated violence carried out by its members could be introduced in light of the impending 2023 Harmonised Elections. The right to vote in a free and fair electoral environment is so foundational to the core values of democracy that every precaution must be taken to protect it.

"The Zimbabwean public deserves a fair and safe electoral environment. To preserve the integrity of elections and prevent the eruption of election-related violence, steps should be taken to reverse the decision to reintroduce the National Youth Service till a time that guarantees can be made that ensure that the Service will not be subjected to political exploitation"

The youth said the service is not a priority at the moment as it is a burden on the taxpayer with zero economic return.

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