Political parties have called for the blocking of the national training programme which the Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment plans to introduce from as early as pre-school.
A concept paper leaked to NewsDay last week revealed the ministry headed by Saviour Kasukuwere, a Zanu PF politburo member, would craft legislation to pave way for the establishment of the National Youth Service implementing agency with an autonomous status by 2013.
However, the paper stated that before the setting-up of the agency, the implementation would be done by a directorate which would be supervised by the ministry.
According to the ministry’s draft concept paper, the initiative was meant to “train 300 000 people from pre-school going age and those in and out of school, colleges and universities under the age of 35”.
According to the 48-page document, the ministry would use its staff from head office, provincial, district and ward youth officers under the Department of Youth Development to reach out to schools, churches, clubs and communities.
MDC-T spokesperson Nelson Chamisa saidthe plan to revive the national service training for children as young as pre-school going was “ridiculous, laughable and incredible”.
“You cannot introduce Zanu PF propaganda by coercion to innocent minds,” said Chamisa. “We will not allow Zanu PF to have their way. All Zimbabweans must oppose this. We must not support this bizarre arrangement.
“Let them start with their own children who are in universities abroad. Zanu PF is not Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe is not Zanu PF. Our country is bigger than Zanu PF. Zanu PF wants to impose its ideologies on the people.
“We will not allow Zanu PF to do what Hitler did to Germany and other countries. Even the church does not force the reading of the Bible to pre-school children. The Word of God is not forced on the children. Let them take their programmes to their people.
“We cannot allow them to contaminate our young and fertile minds. They want to sow weed seeds and poison our young minds.”
Zapu spokesperson Methuseli Moyo said the move to introduce national service was a “scheme by Zanu PF to force onto young Zimbabweans its mentality which is undesirable anywhere in the world”.
“They will say they want to instill nationalism but the fact that we were born Zimbabweans, speak indigenous languages and eat our traditional food means that we were born patriots. There is no need to take people to patriotism lessons,” he said.
“They want to capture the mentality and brainwash people. That should be resisted by all means. The problem with Zanu PF is that they think they have monopoly to the definition of nationalism. They have their own contextual meaning of nationalism where it is required.”
MDC spokesperson Nhlanhla Dube said children should be allowed to grow without any brainwashing and political interference.
“As a party we believe in the right of an individual to grow without any hindrance and political interference. We do not want the brainwashing of young minds who will not question anything in future because they would have been fed with decadent ideologies belonging to a certain political party,” said Dube.
“The child should be allowed to develop from the time of birth until they decide which political path they want to take when they are mature.”