Training of green bombers to return

The government wants to revive national service, abandoned in 2009 after it emerged that its graduates were being used to support Zanu (PF) through violence.

“We want to demilitarise the whole training programme of the national youth service,” said a senior government official, in an apparent policy shift. “We want the graduates of this service to be nation builders, not what they have been associated with before.”

He said a new curriculum, with a bias on entrepreneurship, patriotism and leadership skills, was being developed to re-shape the service’s focus and goals.

“Everything is on course. Staff are already there at various training centres around the country. Once we get funding, we will start the recruitment of trainees,” said retired major Mathias Tongofa, the deputy minister for youth, indigenisation and economic empowerment. Taking part in the training programme would be a requirement for anyone wanting to join the uniformed forces.

In the 2008 elections, graduates who had been through the rigorous six-month training programme, were known as Green Bombers or Border Gezi terror gangs. They caused chaos through violence directed at opposition supporters in the rural areas. They were trained at centres in Matebeleland South, Midlands, Masvingo and in Mashonaland.

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