THE Zimbabwe Liberators Peace Initiative (ZLPI), a grouping of former freedom fighters, has thrown its weight behind the Panorama documentary screened by the BBC earlier this month on the countr
y’s youth militia camps.
ZLPI president Max Mnkandla this week told the Zimbabwe Independent his organisation agreed with most of the details contained in the BBC documentary which was also screened in Zimbabwe this week.
“We have interviewed and spoken to some of the youths who deserted these camps and what we have established is exactly what was highlighted in the BBC programme,” Mnkandla said.
The screening of the documentary by the BBC earlier this month angered local authorities who lashed out at the broadcaster and charged that the documentary contained false information aimed at tarnishing the image of Zimbabwe.
Mnkandla said the ZLPI was disturbed by the course content at the youth militia camps and said the camps were designed as a recruitment base for the army and other state security institutions.
“As a peace-building organisation we understand that some of their lessons include re-orientation in Zanu PF history, jogging, toyi-toying drills and long distance running and all these subjects fit well to prepare someone who will be joining any division of the armed forces,” Mnkandla said.
Last year a dozen youths who deserted the training camps told harrowing tales of events at the camps during a prayer session led by the Bulawayo Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube.
Mnkandla said the subjects taught at the camps were not related to any vocational education that would be put to good use by the youths after completing their so-called “vocational training”.
“The subjects taught at the Border Gezi institutions have nothing to do with building, farming, and motor mechanics, and the question we always ask is who is a better person to teach history between a trained school teacher and a war veteran instructor who cannot even write his own name?” Mnkandla said.
He said Zanu PF has turned the National Youth Service into a military youth wing to terrorise opposition members and said the youths should stop using military uniforms while government should disband the youth camps.