By Darlington Gatsi
THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Monitors (ZHRM) has called for an inquest into alleged violations perpetrated by members of the feared National Youth Service (NYS), commonly known as ‘Green Bombers’.
Established under Zanu PF stalwart, Border Gezi, in early 2000 the NYS was deployed by Zanu PF to terrorise communities, with rape, beatings and killings by the youth militia reported.
Known as Green bombers due to its green uniform, the youth service gained notoriety for unleashing deadly violence during the infamous land grabs, and ahead of elections.
Last year, government announced it was re-introducing the programme, raising suspicions NYS graduates would be used to perpetrate violence ahead of the crunch 2023 elections.
Civic society organisations argue the unpopular project would be used as a political tool for violence.
“We call for the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry into the alleged human rights violations & violence committed by the past NYS graduates in order to establish what actually went wrong, before reincarnating a programme” said the monitors in the statement.
The human rights watchdog said past violence unleashed at the hands of youth service should be investigated before reintroducing the initiative.
The NYS is set to be reintroduced next year with estimated 10 000 recruits after being iced in 2007 due to funding constraints.
Public hearings into the reintroduction of the NYS have since commenced.
Minister of Youth, Sports, Arts and Culture, Kirsty Coventry last week said the initiative would be rebranded, discarding the unpopular green uniform.
She also said the NYS would not be used as a political weapon.
Announcing the reintroduction of NYS, government said graduates would be inculcated with national ethos and be in the first line for jobs in the civil service.
ZHRM said modalities should be put in place to ensure that the youth service is not partisan.
“The rebirth of the NYS must put in place measures to ensure that it is not established on partisan grounds and that the national ethos are not replaced by those of a political party,” further reads the statement.