By Leopold Munhende
TERROR groups linked to the recently reintroduced National Youth Service (NYS) have already started intimidating people in Bindura, warning them to ‘join Zanu PF before it is too late’, a report by Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has noted.
According to ZPP, government intends to set up an NYS training camp at a former military base about 4km from Bindura town.
“Zanu PF youths, citing the NYS, allegedly went around in some parts of Bindura, warning that any citizen who still supported the MDC Alliance were supposed to join Zanu PF ‘before it was too late,” ZPP notes.
“This comes on the back of alleged plans by government to set up an NYS training camp at a former military base in Bindura South, Ward 8 near Dengu village in Manhenga, about 4 km from Bindura town.
“The news of the setting up of an NYS base and the increased political activities by the ruling party has continued to unsettle citizens around Bindura town.
“The area is known for being a political hotspot during election times and in order to assess the levels of fear, ZPP conducted a brief survey and of the 55 people interviewed, 38 said they were apprehensive about the prospects of a violent election.”
Mashonaland Central has been the epicentre of politically motivated violence for decades and the re-introduction of the NYS has brought back fears history could repeat itself in the run-up to the 2023 elections.
Derisively known as Green Bombers because of their green uniform, the youth service trainees became infamous among locals for visiting forms of abuses on Zanu PF opponents and their supporters.
The controversial quasi-military programme ostensibly introduced to school Zimbabwean youths on national interest issues, started in 2001 but has been politicised and dismissed by opponents as Zanu PF indoctrination camps.
Their re-introduction, pushed by the youth ministry, raised worries Zanu PF was already assembling its arsenal for a hostile 2023 election campaign.
An unnamed source quoted by ZPP said the 2017 military assisted coup had already set the tone for abuse.
“Judging by what has happened since 2017 (when the coup happened) soldiers have been more openly used for political purposes.
“Now, adding to that, the Border Gezi (NYS) brigade is going to be there, this means there will be no breathing space for anyone who is not a Zanu PF supporter because if the party youths themselves could cause enough havoc, what about with the presence of Border Gezi, the army and the police?”