Furore over national service

President Robert Mugabe

YOUTH organisations have opposed the planned political indoctrination of students after President Robert Mugabe declared compulsory national service would be introduced for all youths after completion of ‘O’ Level studies.


Mugabe made the pronouncement at his lavish 91st birthday celebrations in the resort town of Victoria Falls saying national youth service was paramount for youth development and maintaining high moral standards and self-discipline.

Mugabe said the government wanted to review the education curriculum in line with the national aspirations of educating employers and entrepreneurs instead of job seekers.

He said resources were already being mobilised to fund the programme and every student would have gone through national service training at ‘O’ Level.

The Zanu PF women’s league conference last year resolved that the government should revive and fully implement the national youth service programme.

The ruling party women demanded that the programme’s curricula should include the liberation war history, cultural values and norms as well as sport to promote social cohesion, cultural identity, national unity and patriotism.

However, Zimbabwe National Students’ Union national spokesman Avoid Masiraha described the proposed national service as political party-driven.

“The way national service is being done in the country is political,” he said.

“They should instead ensure that the youths get employment. Some countries like China have national service where the youths are taught about how to serve their country, but in Zimbabwe there should be a paradigm shift on issues to do with national service.”

He added: “The government should create employment. The funds that were given to the youths recently were just given to the Zanu PF youth league, which is very worrisome.”

Youth in Democracy Initiative of Zimbabwe director Sydney Chisi concurred with Masiraha.

“National service in Zimbabwe is partisan and Zanu PF has always wanted to catch the youths young,” said Chisi.

“What value does it add when there are subjects such as history in schools?”

Chisi said national service should not be taken as a national agenda.

“We do not think that this is a national agenda that can be put across. We cannot talk about national service in a country where there is no service,” he said.

National youth service in Zimbabwe has been a tool used by Zanu PF to engage youths in political service.

The programme was introduced at the turn of the millennium with the aim of drilling revolutionary and patriotic ideologies into the country’s young citizens.