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Furore over national service

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Bulawayo youth organisations have slammed plans by the Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment to introduce National Youth Service (NYS) from kindergarten saying the move is a violation of the rights of children and youths.

In a statement on Thursday, the National Youth Development Trust programme coordinator Mmeli Dube said children and youths needed “access to basic services and employment opportunities rather than being incorporated into a partisan paramilitary training”.

Dube said the timing of the reintroduction of the NYS was also suspicious as it came barely a few weeks after the Zanu PF conference, which resolved to immediately target young people.

Another organisation, Youth Forum, said the ministry should find a better way of imparting such knowledge to young people.

“Instead of coming up with such a costly and brainwashing programme, the Youth ministry should be looking at ways of incorporating education on the country’s history into the current primary school curricula and from pupil-friendly environs, not from some dreadful institution,” read a statement from the organisation.

The Youth Forum reiterated that youths produced from these centres were used to unleash violence.
Article 15 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) states parties need to work on a programme that inculcates values of patriotism, non-violence, democracy, equality and respect. A concept paper by the Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment shows there are plans to introduce national service training beginning from pre-school level.

Although the first enrolment is expected to start next month Youth minister Saviour Kasukuwere has dismissed the reports as misguided.

But according to his ministry’s draft concept paper, the programme aims to “train 300 000 children from pre-school-going age and those in and out of colleges and universities below the age of 35 annually”.

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