Back in 2006 there were media reports that the Zanu PF politburo had resolved that national youth service graduates be given government jobs and be tasked with promoting the party.
This resolution, it was reported at the time, was immediately endorsed by Cabinet.
The reports said the youths’ would spearhead Zanu PF campaigns although they would be officially recognised as government employees because that was the only way the party could afford to pay them.
Asked to comment on this development then Deputy Youth Development minister Saviour Kasukuwere confirmed the planned youth recruitment but dismissed as “downright nonsense” suggestions that the youths would be tasked to campaign for Zanu PF.
“When they go for national youth training we teach them income-generating projects and we want them to pass on these skills to other youths in various wards,” said Kasukuwere. “As far as we know, these youths have been very disciplined so fears that they will force people to support Zanu PF in their areas of operation are misplaced. In fact, it’s downright nonsense. We are simply creating jobs for our youths.”
Further to this development, a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General last year revealed that the Youth ministry had irregularly employed nearly 11 000 youths to work as “youth officers” in the run-up to the violence-plagued presidential election run-off of June 2008.
Deputy Minister of Youth Development at the time Thamsanqa Mahlangu told Parliament that 80 000youths had been recruited and out of those 13 950 were employed by the government as “youth ward officers”.
The saga has kept developing and perhaps the most revealing aspect of it came at the weekend when Zanu PF’s Matabeleland North province at a meeting on Saturday complained bitterly about the closure of youth training centres.
“National youth service centres have all died yet yesterday it was the backbone of the party,” said Zanu PF politburo member Jacob Mudenda at the meeting.
“There is an urgent need to revive youth training centres to teach the youth political direction. The youths have always played an important role in campaigning for the party. They should also be given jobs.”
So fears that the graduates from national youth training centres were expected to campaign for Zanu PF is not “downright nonsense” after all, minister Kasukuwere?
This revelation at the weekend points to an egregious abuse of state resources by Zanu PF.
The whole exercise of training the youths had little to do with national development but to shore the party whose popularity has been waning over the years due to its poor governance record.