CABINET has rejected a draft document from the Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment ministry that sought to reintroduce the national youth service.
Deputy minister Tongai Matutu told the Zimbabwe Independent on Tuesday that cabinet had instructed his ministry to carry out more consultations locally and regionally.
The document titled –– National Youth Service Training Programme in Zimbabwe — had envisaged training more than 300 000 youths annually at its training centres.
“To my knowledge that document was rejected by cabinet with instruction for further consultations. There is no legislation currently that authorises the training of youths in any capacity in Zimbabwe,” said Matutu.
He, however, could not say when exactly the document was brought before Cabinet and rejected.
Sources in the ministry said deployment of trainers to all districts started late January and youths have been spotted at the training camps “ready for training”.
Matutu said: “I am not aware that the deployment and subsequent training has commenced countrywide… but also I cannot rule out the possibility because Zanu PF is recruiting and training the youths under the disguise of national service.”
He said he had received reports that “more than 100 youths are currently camped at a training base in Mt Darwin district”, saying this had terrified villagers.
“I am told those youths have no idea why there are at that camp” he added.
The document had proposed the immediate implementation of a massive training of militias, targeting youths up to 35 years.
In the document, the youth ministry was proposing to re-launch a project to reorient young people so that they learn about Zimbabwe’s “revolution, pre-colonial political systems, colonialism, Chimurenga (revolutionary) wars and the post-colonial state”.
“The ministry has developed a programme to orient the youths so that they can accept the realities of life and be able to actively and productively participate in peace and national development,” read the document.
The initiative, according to the ministry’s draft concept paper, is meant to “train 300 000 people from pre-school going age and those in and out of school, colleges and universities under the age of 35 annually”.
In pre-schools, education would be centered on the national flag, national anthem, cultural dances and role plays while primary schools would cover the “liberation struggle and legacy”, physical fitness, the role of youth in peace and national development.
At secondary school level, the students are expected to continue with physical fitness training, discuss issues to do with conflict, provision of external facilitation, case studies and role plays.
In tertiary institutions, the paper said the ministry had established links with some universities to teach youth development programmes.