Opposition brands plan for new Zim youth service as indoctrination

As of next year, every tertiary education aspiring Zimbabwean should undergo a revised and revamped national service program after completing Ordinary level. Opposition political parties say this proposal is a move by Zanu-PF to brainwash would-be voters come 2018.

Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment counterpart, Patrick Zhuwao

On average a person completes their ordinary level certificate of education at around the age of 16, two years before attaining the legal age of majority.

If the project goes ahead, according to a report by the State-run Sunday Mail newspaper quoting the deputy minister of Primary and Secondary Education Professor Paul Mavhima, it will become the primary rite of passage for young Zimbabwean men and women who are transitioning from adolescence to adulthood.

Opposition political parties have flagged it as a way of scoring cheap political mileage by the governing party Zanu-PF.

“The MDC is disturbed by attempts by Zanu-PF to indoctrinate and brainwash the young people of Zimbabwe ‘Border Gezi militia national service’ style through the introduction of a compulsory O-Level 5-month industrial attachment programme in the uniformed forces, government departments and private institutions, by the Primary and Secondary Education Ministry,” said Kuraone Chihwayi, the MDC (Welshman Ncube-led) spokesperson in a statement to the media.

The ‘Border Gezi militia national service’ was a movement at the turn of the century whereby Zanu-PF introduced national service. Over the years the program lost relevance, but when it was in full swing, unemployed youths and those that had just finished secondary school education became active participants in politics – but mostly as terror groups sponsored by the system.

Those that were lucky were later absorbed into the military, police, prison service and other government departments such as health. Those that did not have formal or basic skills were taken in as “youth officers” but audits on the government’s payroll identified them as ghost workers.

They make up the majority of the 10 000 ghost workers that were employed by the ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment. Their presence in the government payroll has put a strain on the national fiscus. Thus, minister of finance Patrick Chinamasa announced last week that ghost workers will be weeded out.

However at a public meeting in Marondera his Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment counterpart, Patrick Zhuwao, defended their existence. “The youth officers will not go away despite attempts by some people to have them dismissed from government,” Zhuwao said.

But longtime opposition politician Eddie Cross, who doubles up as a social commentator, feels if the program is done appropriately with good intentions outside politicking it could yield positive results. “If it is possible I think it could be useful. Last year my granddaughter spend the holidays in a veterinary laboratory and enjoyed it so much,” he said. – Africa Independent

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