ED has impoverished us: Green Bombers

BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

AN association representing graduates of the controversial National Youth Service (NYS) programme has accused the current government led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa of “pauperising them”, and working against the late former President Robert Mugabe’s youth empowerment initiatives.

The Zimbabwe National Service Graduates Association (ZINASGA) blamed Mnangagwa’s government for their suffering after he okayed the dismissal of thousands of youth officers from the civil service.

Government started dismissing the youth officers, mainly drawn from the NYS, in December 2018 as part of Finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s
transitional stabilisation programme.

ZINASGA national commander Andifasi Banda said life has never been the same ever since Mugabe was forced out of power in November 2017.
Mugabe passed away at a Singapore hospital last week.

“The abolishment of the NYS and subsequent dismissal of youth officers is a big disgrace to our departed icon whose vision was to ensure
the empowerment of the young. With Mugabe gone, we do not see the Second Republic empowering us because we have witnessed the dismissal
of thousands of our colleagues,” Banda told Southern Eye yesterday.

“We bemoan the loss of jobs; how will they empower the youth when we are not employed? This new dispensation came with policies that
affected the youths . . . Mugabe would not have okayed our suffering…We also have no regrets for undergoing the NYS.”

The remarks come in the wake of government having paid US$22,9 million terminal benefits to 3 188 youth officers whose contracts were
terminated.

Announcing the 2019 national budget recently, Ncube said government mobilised US$5,2 million in December 2017 towards three months’ cash
in-lieu of retirement notices and in the second instance, US$17,7 million on February 16, 2018 towards the officers’ pension benefits. He
said the remaining 2 917 youth officers were expected to have been retired by the end of December 2018.

Said Ncube: “At its 38th meeting of 5 December 2017, Cabinet re-affirmed its decision to terminate employment contracts of 3 188 youth
officers as previously resolved. Drawing from the above Cabinet resolutions and guidance of the Public Service Commission, Treasury
proceeded to mobilise in the first instance, US$5,2 million in December 2017 towards three months’ cash in-lieu of retirement notices and
in the second instance, US$17,7 million on 16 February 2018 towards the officers’ pension benefits. Speaker Sir, the 2 917 youth officers
who still remain on the payroll, are being retired and the posts removed from the establishment, by end of December 2018.”

The NYS programme, launched by the late Youth minister Border Gezi in 2001, was introduced with the aim of drilling revolutionary and
patriotic ideologies into the country’s young citizens.

The programme was, however, roundly attacked and dismissed for training the much-feared and infamous Zanu PF youth brigades that became
known as “Green Bombers” because of the colour of their paramilitary uniforms.

According to numerous human rights reports, the Green Bombers were responsible for electoral violence, including rape and murder of
opposition activists.

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