WASHINGTON DC —
As Zimbabweans ponder the country's future following the shake-up in the leadership of the ruling Zanu PF after its recent congress, the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Morgan Tsvangirai national youth wing says it strongly opposes one of the congress resolutions calling for the revival of the controversial National Youth Service programme.
The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) has expressed the same sentiments, adding that this is only a Zanu PF program.
Every student wishing to go to university or other tertiary institutions in the country would be required to go through the national youth service training program.
Some national youth service graduates, popularly known as ‘Green ‘Bombers, who were trained at some vocational centers, have in the past been used by Zanu PF in its campaigns, particularly targeting opposition supporters.
Spokesperson Brian Dube of the MDC-T's Youth League, said his party opposes and condemns the proposal to revive the youth service programme.
The revival of the programme was one of the resolutions passed at the recent Zanu PF congress after the party's former youth secretary Absolom Sikhosana said the party's youths are in support of the idea.
But Dube said it is senseless for Zanu PF to revive the program when there is an urgent need to revive the economy so youths can get the necessary education and be gainfully employment.
Dube also criticized the Zanu PF government saying it has failed the youths by not allocating enough money for grants for tertiary students.
He also called for the scrapping of the Presidential Scholarship Fund saying it is a waste of taxpayers' money, adding that the money should be channeled towards loans and grants for students who study locally.
Dube also criticized suggestions that Zanu PF members should be given priority for vacancies in state-owned companies saying such cronyism is what has caused the collapse of most parastatals or government companies.
Dube said jobs in parastatals should be given on the basis of competency not partisanship.
Development Studies lecturer Diydmus Dewa of the Zimbabwe Open University, speaking as an independent analyst, said although he agrees that for some jobs it is important to consider expertise rather than an individual's political affiliation, it is not surprising that Zanu PF wants to reward its supporters.
Dewa also said he sees nothing wrong with the proposed re-introduction of the youth service programme but said it should not be used to indoctrinate youths with a partisan political ideology.
The National Youth Service was started in 2001 with the intended aim of empowering youths through life skills and leadership training.
The programme received a lot of criticism as its graduates were viewed as Zanu PF militias, who terrorized opposition supporters.