National Youth Service (Zimbabwe)

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Inside the Third Chimurenga, a book used by the National Youth Service

The National Youth Service is a programme of the Zimbabwean government for Zimbabweans of ages 10 to 30. It was authorized by the 1979 National Service Act, passed by the government of Zimbabwe Rhodesia,[1] and established in 2001 under the presidency of Robert Mugabe.[2] Its stated purpose is to "transform and empower youths for nation building through life skills training and leadership development."[3] The National Youth Service has been condemned in the West and in Africa for gross human rights violations on behalf of the ZANU-PF party. Within Zimbabwe the graduates of the service are known pejoratively as green bombers after the fatigue uniforms they wear [4] and more recently as the Youth Brigade. [5]


The service claims to instill in young Zimbabweans a sense of national identity and patriotism. While it proposes to unite people above party lines, it also promotes wariness of "foreign influence and intervention" in national politics.[3] The opposing view, both inside Zimbabwe and abroad, holds that the service indoctrinates its members with absolute loyalty to ZANU-PF and trains them for military operations to enforce its dominance.[6][7][8] The government plans to make the program mandatory for all youths.[2]


According to an opposition group, members of the youth service are taught exclusively from ZANU-PF campaign materials and speeches. These include an anthology of Mugabe's speeches titled Inside the Third Chimurenga. The speeches glorify Mugabe's land reform programme and ZANU-PF leaders Border Gezi and Chenjerai Hunzvi. They accuse the Movement for Democratic Change of seeking a return to white rule.[9][10]

Training centres[edit]

Conditions in the service training facilities are reported to include poor construction, frequent hunger and sexual abuse of girls and women.[2]


  1. ^ National Service Act 1979, Government of Zimbabwe
  2. ^ a b c "MPs horrified at Zim youth camps - report". IOL. 2007-05-24. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  3. ^ a b NYS Director. "National Youth Service". Ministry of Youth Development and Employment Creation. Archived from the original on 2008-04-21. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  4. ^ Meldrum, Andrew (2003-02-19). "Living in fear of Mugabe's green bombers". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  5. ^ Modondo, Obert (2003-02-19). "The problem of youth in Mugabe's Zimbabwe". Africa Files. Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  6. ^ Makamure, Lucia (2008-02-15). "Kunonga Holed Up in Anglican Cathedral". Zimbabwe Independent. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  7. ^ "Police state". Mail & Guardian. 2007-04-04. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  8. ^ Thompson, Ginger (2003-04-15). "Mugabe's Recruits Flee Brutal Zimbabwean Past". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  9. ^ Ranger, Terence (June 2004). "Nationalist historiography, patriotic history and the history of the nation: the struggle over the past in Zimbabwe" (PDF). Journal of Southern African Studies. 30 (2): 215. doi:10.1080/0305707042000215338. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  10. ^ Solidarity Peace Trust (2003-09-05). "National Youth Service Training" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-07-02. 

External links[edit]