The government has resumed the controversial National Youth Service training (NYS) at Border Gezi Training Camp in Mt Darwin, with youth organisations demanding the disbandment of the programme.
The militia group, popularly known as the Green Bombers, has been criticised after it turned partisan, serving only the ruling party Zanu PF’s interests.
In their petition to the government demanding the disbandment of the programme, the young people’s affiliated organisations said the government should reconsider the proposed re-introduction of the NYS until such a time when there is a national consensus on the policy guiding the programme.
The organisations, led by the National Association of Youth Organisations (NAYO), a youth umbrella body for youth organisations working in Zimbabwe included Vision Africa, Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust (SAPST), Community Advocacy Development Trust (CADT), gave oral evidence to the Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Parliamentary Portfolio Committee last week.
NAYO coordinator Macdonald Munyoro presented the petition arguments to the committee.
“The government is re-introducing the NYS without evaluating and getting lessons learnt from 2001-2008 in terms of approach, ideology, relevance, feedback from citizens, youth themselves and without identifying gaps from previous program. No evidence and wide consultations have been done. The government should appoint a Commission of Inquiry into the alleged human rights violations and violence committed by the past NYS graduates in order to establish what went wrong,” Munyoro said.
According to the youth groups, NYS was condemned by the United Nations (UN) and Africa Union.
In their petition, the youth demanded to know if Parliament had debated the cabinet’s decision and inquire on its funding modalities.
“The NYS was characterised by the perception and belief that it was a ruling party ( Zanu PF) programme as evidenced by gathered information regarding the provision of materials from inception that consisted exclusively Zanu PF party. Where are the funds to roll out the programme being derived from and is there any parliament approval,” Munyoro querried.
NAYO also called on Parliament to exercise its oversight role to ensure consultations for a national, inclusive, non discriminatory process in shaping the issues that affect youth in the country in line with the constitution and best practice.
“The NYS should be separated from Defence ministry and close all training sites linked to the military, for instance, the Mt Darwin Border Gezi Camp is a former 2 Brigade military camp