- "The youth who would have spurned the NYS may face significant disadvantages on many prospects as Government will insist it's a national programme and opposition youth will insist it's a Zanu-PF project like it was with land reform, indigenisation, mining projects, youth loans, women bank, old version of NYS and rural food for work etc."
By Mutsa Makuvaza
THE decision by Government to reintroduce the National Youth Service (NYS) will leave opposition youths at a huge economic disadvantage like what happened with the land reform, unless the opposition youths embrace the NYS, analysts have said.
The NYS programme was introduced by the late former President Robert Mugabe in 2001.
On paper, the National Youth Service is a voluntary training programme for vocational skills, disaster management, patriotism and moral education. But in Zimbabwe, products of this programme have become a paramilitary force for Zanu-PF during tense election periods as was the case in 2008 and before, and the graduands have often had first preference when Government departments such as the army, State intelligence and others recruit.
Business and economic strategist Brian Sedze believes the youth training will become a ticket for economic opportunities in the coming years and youth leaders in the opposition have some hard thinking to do before accepting the programme or rejecting it.
“This will particularly be a very difficult decision arena for the opposition youth leaders specifically on what signal they should give their supporters.
“What I foresee is that the NYS will become a minimum entry for future opportunities in government employment and security sector, mining, agriculture projects and other deployments,” Sedze warned.
“The youth who would have spurned the NYS may face significant disadvantages on many prospects as Government will insist it’s a national programme and opposition youth will insist it’s a Zanu-PF project like it was with land reform, indigenisation, mining projects, youth loans, women bank, old version of NYS and rural food for work etc.
“There is need for them to invest in strategic thinking on the thin line between politics and socio- economic future prospects.”
Others hold a different view. Dr. Kurai Mubaiwa says Government was openly politicking taking advantage of economic hardships and joblessness among youths to lure voters ahead of the 2023 elections.
“The reintroduction of the National Youth Service shows that the Zanu PF government has misplaced priorities. Instead of channelling the country’s scant resources towards education, health, conditions of service for civil servants and infrastructure development, it is preoccupied with organising a militia that has a history of perpetrating violence on the opposition during elections.
“Government should invest in uplifting the standards of living for the youth, whose majority are living in abject poverty and are struggling to cope amid unaffordable education, lack of access to healthcare and forced migration due to limited unemployment opportunities,” he said.
Brian Mugoronji said youths who spurn the NYS could be at an economic disadvantage and might never recover lost opportunities if they miss out.
“This is the same scenario with the Land reform programme. A lot of opposition members were told it’s a Zanu-PF project and missed the boat. Sadly their leaders got the farms whilst discouraging their supporters. Personally I feel indifferent with this NYS.
“I was part of the recruitment panel for a government department some years ago for general hands and first preference was for graduates from NYS,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sedze said youths leaders in the opposition face a decision arena that is hard to navigate.
“The NYS shall open future business and employment opportunities for graduands and close that space to non graduands. The decision is either accept closure of the economic space to make a political point or swallow the NYS then support the status quo.
“The decision arena is hard to navigate. I will let my son decide for himself what he wants whenever he finishes his university studies,” he said. – Zimbabwe Voice ■