Minister of Finance and Economic Development Mthuli Ncube made the announcement that the government would retire all youth officers. The officers were considered a strain on the already stretched national budget for several years.
Most of the youth officers are graduates from the infamous National Youth Training Service, started at the turn of the Millenium. The late former Mashonaland Governor Border Gezi was the godfather of the programme and it has since been christened with his name.
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Numbering in the thousands, the youth officers are considered ZANU PF’s foot soldiers during election campaigns. Ncube’s decision to fire them has not gone down well with senior ZANU PF leaders. Party spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said
Of course, we are aware that the programme will require financing. If there is no money, then it would not be implemented. It is up to the minister (Ncube) to come back and explain to the party that he does not have the resources or he should find a way of raising the required money.
Simon Khaya Moyo acknowledged that the youth officers were in the past used to unleash violence against the opposition. He had this to say
That was in the old dispensation and we are not talking about the past. If they did that [violence, torture and murder] in the old dispensation, we will not allow that.
This is a programme to give young people skills that will help them stand on their own or help in the economic development of our country.
MDC spokesperson Jacob Mafume castigated ZANU PF’s desire to retain the youth officers. In an interview with Newsday, he said
It would look like the regime has the nostalgia of its murderous past. Graduates from the youth service have been convicted by the courts of murder, maiming and rape of opposition activists as well as female recruits. It’s the same as trying to bring back the Fifth Brigade. The question that remains now is how much of (former President Robert) Mugabe’s murderous infrastructure is Mnangagwa going to retain. It scares us.
Border Gezi was a Zimbabwean politician. He was a close ally of Robert Mugabe within ZANU-PF and served as Minister for Gender, Youth and Employment from 2000 having previously been a provincial governor. Read More About Border Gezi