PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has already activated the training of youth militias under the guise of National Youth Service (NYS) ahead of make-or-break elections next year, a local peace lobby group has said.
Source: Green bombers already being trained: ZPP – NewsDay Zimbabwe March 1, 2017
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
In a statement following Mugabe’s announcement that government should consider re-introducing the training of the infamous NYS accused of electoral violence including rape and murder, the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) said it was aware that training of the youths, derisively referred to as Green Bombers because of their uniforms, was already underway.
“Mountview Vocational Training Centre in Mashonaland East has closed its doors to make way for the youth militia training. This shows that plans to reintroduce the training were already in motion before the President’s announcement. The programme had been discontinued in 2009 after the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU),” ZPP said.
But Zanu PF’s former director for information and now Highfield West lawmaker, Psychology Maziwisa, accused the opposition MDC-T of scaremongering tactics in fear of electoral defeat. “The attempt to raise false alarms about possible violence in 2018 is a clear sign that they are developing cold feet and are well alive to the impending annihilation of opposition politics by Zanu PF in 2018,” he said.
“The MDC must come out in the open and admit that it has eventually dawned on them that they cannot dislodge Zanu PF in a democratic, free and fair election and stop this nonsense of endlessly hiding behind unfounded, unsubstantiated and unsustainable claims of violence.
“The brutal truth is that they are a clueless party with no policies, no agenda and no leadership.”
Maziwisa argued that, if anything, it was the MDC-T that has been proven to be violent, citing the incarceration of three activists for the 2011 murder of police Inspector Petros Mutedza, as an indication of the violent nature of former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party.
“Moreover, the recent conviction of MDC thugs for the murder of a police officer in cold blood a few years ago is more than enough evidence of who the real perpetrators of violence in this country are,” the MP said.
The opposition party argues it was a politically-motivated trial and resulted in a miscarriage of justice.
Mugabe last weekend called on the government to re-introduce the training of the youth brigades, as part of youth empowerment programmes. Opposition parties immediately raised a red flag, arguing Mugabe was laying the groundwork for a bloody poll.
ZPP said it remains “sceptical” of Mugabe’s intentions.
“This is a call to the escalation of violence by the Head of State. The programme, which is pitched as a patriotic programme, has often been used to further partisan political agendas. Youths trained in various camps all over the country under this programme have been involved in acts of political violence,” ZPP said. It added that Mugabe seemed to be looking for fresh storm-troopers after being dumped by veterans of the liberation struggle.
“With the war veterans currently refusing to campaign for President Mugabe, we fear that the youths will be used to campaign for the ruling party leader with violent consequences,” the statement added.
ZPP called on Mugabe to reverse his decision and instead institute an inquiry into human rights abuses by the national youth service graduates.