Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa on Tuesday announced that Cabinet has approved the re-establishment of the National Youth Training (NYS) Programme, a controversial initiative that had been suspended in 2018.
The “Green Bombers,” as they are derisively known, are accused of committing egregious human rights violations during the last 20 years or so years of the late Robert Mugabe’s reign.
The youths allegedly committed murders, rape, torture, and burnt down homes of mainly MDC members and ordinary people for not possessing a Zanu PF membership card.
Mutsvangwa told a press briefing that the programme was “crucial in nurturing young people into becoming responsible and resilient citizens with a clear sense of national identity and respect for national values.”
She said the proposal, adopted by the Cabinet, came as a result of consultations between the youth ministry and the defence and war veterans affairs department.
MDC Alliance vice president Tendai Biti accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa of plotting a violent election. He tweeted:
The desperate regime presses yet another disparate note of discontent. They want violence in 2023. They want another genocide in Zimbabwe. They have an itch that needs scratching. Shame on them and their false gods.
A Twitter user by the handle @mputailic reminisced:
End of December 2001, these militants beat me to a pulp, left me for dead for not possessing a Zanu PF card. My mom had bought one for me but I had left it in another car.
It was towards the March 2002 presidential election. I fell unconscious and had to be taken to town by ambulance.
However, former MDC spokesperson, Obert Gutu, who recently joined Zanu PF lauded the NYS Programme as a noble initiative. He tweeted:
I salute & celebrate the return of the National Youth Service (NYS). Our youths should be taught the values & ethos of patriotism, self-pride, selfless service to one’s country, nationalism & Pan-Africanism.