The government has revealed that the controversial National Youth Service (NYS) commonly known as the Border Gezi Youth Militia training reintroduction is on the cards.
Popularly known as Green Bombers because of their green training uniform, the NYS was established as a youth militia in the 2000s by late youth minister and Zanu PF stalwart Border Gezi.
The Zanu PF-linked militia has in previous years been accused of terrorising, assaulting, raping and killing opposition supporters during elections, mainly in the rural areas.
The National Youth Service (NYS) attracted backlash when it was introduced at the turn of the millennium due to its strong links with mandatory military training, political ideology and election-related violence.
Speaking recently, Deputy Youth Minister, Kudakwashe Mupamhanga promised that the program set for re-launch is a rigorous departure from the initial one.
“At the moment I can’t pre-empty that. Deliberations are still ongoing. So I can’t give you breaking news on my own. However, I inform you that we intend to bring back the National Youth Service and are still at the consultation stage.
“The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee travelled countrywide in the last session of Parliament and got feedback from that. There was also feedback to the Youth Minister in Cabinet,” he said.
Civil society organisations have expressed reservations against the reintroduction of the NYS with concerns raised that it will be used as a political tool for violence.
The NYS training was halted in 2007 due to funding constraints
Mupamhanga said the re-introduction plans are also in line with the Youth Bill.
“But like I said before we want to have a volunteer component to enable these young people to receive training and empowerment as well as lessons about our culture and identity as well as volunteering for the betterment of the country,” he said.
He added that current work involves several Ministries via the inter-ministerial arrangement which means there will be a lot of back-and-forth consultations on the matter.