Plans to introduce compulsory national service for all youths will inculcate the right ideological values in future leaders, Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Christopher Mushohwe has said.
While addressing people who gathered for the 29th anniversary of the 21st February Movement celebrations in Victoria Falls last Saturday, President Mugabe said mandatory national service for youths completing Ordinary Level studies was on the cards.
He said resource mobilisation for the exercise was already underway.
On Monday, Minister Mushohwe said the development was timely as the country needed to produce a responsible future generation.
“The primary objective of youth service is to conscientise the youths on who they are and where they came from, their history and the values we attach to our nationhood,” he said.
“The President is spot on because once we inculcate that ethos, we will have an appreciation of who we are. We need a national service that must be undertaken by all people not just a few people and hence the move to catch them young upon completing O-Level is ideal.”
He said there was need to ensure the youths were not a victim of Western values.
“We can learn and watch other cultures, but if from the right age we understand who we are, we will do away with values that are anti-Africa,” he said.
“If we do not, we are bound to be swayed to appreciate values that are unacceptable. We are also looking at possibilities of having national youths service in our school curriculum.”
He said youth service was not unique to Zimbabwe as many countries implemented the programme.
If the programme is implemented, Zimbabwe will join countries like South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia and Lesotho that have national service for their youths.
Many other countries in the world have such a programme, while national service has a long tradition in the United States where it extends to the founding of the country and takes multiple forms including serving in the military.
Said Minister Mushohwe: “As Government, we are more determined to implement national youth service because we have got a framework already in place and we are working on it. It is not militarising this thing but we need a responsible future generation and we will do things in a way that conforms to international standards.
“This is what we should have done since 1980. Once we do that we eradicate some of the challenges that we are experiencing.”
zanu-pf secretary for Youths Affairs Cde Pupurai Togarepi, said national service was an important link between youth development and patriotism.
“We are excited that it is finally coming up,” he said.
“Graduates of the national youth service have always been an envy of many hence the cry from the youths to get a chance to train.”
Government is also working towards reviewing the education curriculum in line with the national aspirations of educating employers and entrepreneurs instead of job seekers.
A lawyer who cannot be named for professional reasons, said there was nothing illegal in coming up with a policy that was not discriminatory.
“As long as all Zimbabweans, rich or poor, participate in this scheme, I do not see any challenges. It’s good for our youths to know who they are as well as understand their history. The problem will come if others are allowed to escape the programme by virtue of having a lot of money that allows them to leave the country under the pretext of attending universities and colleges abroad and only to come back later,” he said.