Resuscitation of Youth Service will lead to political violence

The Zimbabwe Peace Project is skeptical about President Robert Mugabe’s suggestions during his birthday celebrations in Matopos that the Border Gezi Youth Service programme must be resuscitated. This is a call to the escalation of violence by the head of state.

The programme which is pitched as a patriotic programme has often been used to further partisan political agendas. Youths trained in various camps all over the country under this programme have been involved in acts of political violence.
With the war veterans currently refusing to campaign for President Mugabe, we fear that the youths will be used to campaign for the ruling party leader with violent consequences. Already the youths and the war veterans are at loggerheads within the ruling party after youths described the war veterans as ‘drunkards and diabetic’ as the two opposing groups vie for control of the ruling party.
On the 12th of March 2009, a young man in Nguboyenja was coerced into joining the youth service programme. When he refused he had his academic certificates confiscated. The ZPP recorded many cases of assault, rape and torture perpetrated by youths. None of the human riots violations perpetrated by the youths were ever investigated by the government. Many Zimbabweans have horrific memories of the youth militia.
Mountview Vocational training Centre in Mashonaland East has closed its doors to make way for the Youth Militia training. This shows that plans to reintroduce the training were already in motion before the president announced the plans. The programme had been discontinued in 2009 after the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU)
The ZPP is concerned that the resuscitation of the youth programme under a politicised and polarised environment such as obtaining now will lead to more cases of political violence and violations of human rights. The ZPP calls on President Mugabe to reconsider his public utterances and instead institute an investigation into the human rights violations perpetrated by the youths affiliated to his party in the past.
ZPP is a Non Governmental Organization that was founded in 2000 by a group of faith based and human rights NGOs working and interested in human rights and peace-building initiatives. ZPP has become a vehicle for civic interventions in times of political crises. In particular, ZPP seeks to monitor and document incidents of human rights violations and breaches of peace.
If you are concerned about acts of violence in your community, ZPP encourages you to get in touch with us on Hotline and WhatsApp numbers
+263 774 883 406 and +263 774 883 417
Toll Free: 080 80199

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