Shakeman Mugari/Augustine Mukaro
THE government is currently expanding and renovating the controversial youth training camps at a cost of $500 million ahead of next year’s general election. <
Sources said government was already extending and revamping Kamativi, Vumba and Mushagashe camps in preparation for the poll in March.
The training camps are expected to churn out more than 6 000 youths who could possibly be deployed to strengthen Zanu PF’s electoral machinery.
The sources said government would use the camps as militia bases during the election period. The camps would also house the Zanu PF youth wing during the elections.
The Zimbabwe Independent is reliably informed that an unbudgeted $500 million would be used for renovating and extending the three camps.
The Independent has had sight of the preliminary expenditure proposal for the project. The papers show that the government has set aside $360 million for the extension of Kamativi training camp in Matabeleland North, the biggest militia base in the country.
Mushagashe in Masvingo and Vumba in Manicaland would also be extended at a total cost of $150 million. Vumba, an all-female youth camp with an original capacity of 500 occupants, is now expected to have more than 800 inmates at a time.
Mushagashe would also increase its intake from the current 1 000 to about 1 300. There are plans, sources say, to have a crash programme for the next youth intake. A senior training officer in the Ministry of Youth, Gender and Employment said the camps would have four intakes over the next seven months.
“Yes the renovations have started. The next intake will be at the end of this month. The plan is to make up for the time lost during the reconstruction,” said the official.
Meanwhile, reports say Zanu PF has turned Rusape into a no go area for the opposition deploying graduates from the national youth training centres to harass any suspected MDC supporters.
One of the victims who preferred to be identified only as Brighton for fear of victimisation said he was detained and tortured for four days for allegedly possessing independent newspapers.
Brighton said he had just disembarked from a bus from Harare when a well-known graduate from Border Gezi youth camp living in Rusape approached him, accusing him of reading newspapers sponsored by British premier Tony Blair. He was holding the Zimbabwe Independent and the Financial Gazette.