Blessings Chidakwa-Herald Reporter

The enrolment of 750 cadres for the National Youth Service in Zimbabwe has started countrywide, with President Mnangagwa expected to officiate at the relaunch of the programme next month.

Cabinet announced the relaunch this month, renaming it the Youth Service in Zimbabwe, a strategy to inculcate a culture of service and constructive participation of youths in nation-building activities. 

The service should help keep youths away from societal ills such as drug and substance abuse resulting from idleness. Yesterday, the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Development and Vocational Training director responsible for Youth Service in Zimbabwe, Mr Ophas Dube, said all hands are on the deck to ensure the programme starts smoothly.

“We are going to launch from Nhakiwa Vocational Training Centre on May 24, where the President is expected to officiate.

“In June we will be opening up from Dadaya National Youth Service Training Centre and Vungu. In terms of recruitment, people are going to our district offices, where we recruit from because we want to have a wide coverage.” 

Mr Dube said provision of uniforms and other supplies had been arranged. “Everything else is in place. We hope and trust that nothing is going to stop us. 

“We are highly involved in the preparations as we had no training for some time. We are just sprucing up our centres,” he said. 

An inter-ministerial implementation committee is in place to oversee the six months training programme, which covers three months of institutionalised training and three months of community attachment. Those who undergo the training will be issued with certificates on completion.

One of the beneficiaries of the past national youth services, Chipo Tagwirei, said the programme had been a game-changer for her life. 

“During our time from 2004 to 2005, we were taught four pillars (which were) discipline, entrepreneurship, patriotism and voluntarism. We were taught the history of our country and the future. 

“In terms of securing jobs, that was never an issue for some of us who joined nursing, teaching while those with less academic qualifications joined organisations like GMB. We also benefited from A1 and A2 farms,” he said.

Another beneficiary, Innocent Chakabva who trained in 2003, said the training inculcated a culture of discipline among the youths which will make us shun the issue of abusing drugs. “I was also taught the issue of nationhood and understanding the history of our nation. The issue of patriotism was also key. We were also taught to be entrepreneurs,” he said. 

Speaking after a recent Cabinet meeting, Information Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Jenfan Muswere said Youth Empowerment, Development and Vocational Training Minister Tino Machakaire had briefed Cabinet on the programme’s re-establishment. 

Since the Cabinet decision in 2021 to re-establish the national youth service programme, some progress has been registered by the ministry.

“Achievements to date include the National Youth Service Bill being drafted following the approval of the principles in August 2023 and the development of a six-month training programme, which will target youths between the ages of 18 and 35.

“The national youth service programme has been renamed Youth Service in Zimbabwe and 10 000 youths are earmarked to undergo training in 2024.

“The youths will be drawn equally from all the country’s 10 provinces. The recruitment will be cascaded to incorporate youths in all wards and districts and the new curriculum will infuse national orientation with life skills training and entrepreneurial development.

“New uniforms, signage and a logo have been designed and will be registered and all production units are expected to fully use available land and engage in commercial production units for self-sustenance,” said Dr Muswere.

The Government has stipulated that youths who complete the training will receive priority in employment and enrolment into the public sector and higher and tertiary education institutions, and will be prioritised for financial support to establish new projects and businesses.

National Youth Service has been rolled out in most countries including Namibia, Kenya, Nigeria and many other countries in Europe and Asia. 

In Nigeria, the programme is aimed at involving graduates in nation-building and national development. In Kenya, the National Youth Service was established in 1964 to train young people in important national matters such as national building programmes and technical and vocational training in various skills and trades. In Namibia, it is aimed at instilling discipline among youths, inculcating a sense of patriotism and developing the youth into individuals with physical and mental endurance, exemplary moral and ethical character and integrity.

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