College shuts down to pave way for Border Gezi training

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MARONDERA: A vocational training centre here has stopped offering various courses to make way for the national youth militia training which was revived this year after a seven year-break, sources at the college have confirmed.

Mount View Vocational Training Centre, run by the youth affairs ministry, has, for years, been offering technical courses to hundreds of young people since the national youth training popularly known as the Border Gezi service was stopped in 2009. Patrick Zhuwao is the youth affairs minister.

However, the programme was revived this year in all provinces amid concerns that it is part of Zanu PF’s plan to recruit and train youths who will embark on a terror campaign ahead of the 2018 elections.

The training centre traditionally offers certificates and diplomas in mechanics, computers, environment health management and other short courses but this year, there was no enrolment for the courses except for agriculture.

“Instead, we are now offering three months training programmes to youths between the ages of 18 and 30 years. We have a current enrolment of about 100 students and training started three weeks ago and they are expected to complete in March,” a trainer at the centre said.

The programme is popularly referred to as the Border Gezi training after its founder, the now late youth minister and Zanu PF’s national commissar, Border Gezi.

It was stopped in 2009 following the formation of the inclusive government after ministers and MPs from the MDC formations challenged why the government was financing a partisan Zanu PF programme.

“We are mainly concentrating on the youth militia training exercise while the other courses, excluding agriculture have been stopped. We are now preparing our selection for the next batch of students for the next intake to start in April. We hope to have four intakes every year,” the trainer said.

The trainer said the recruits are exposed to military training tactics, political indoctrination and will also spend time working in various government departments on “community service”.

When the programme was introduced in the early 2000s the recruits quickly gained a national notoriety tag as they were accused of violence and of terrorising suspected opposition supporters especially in the run-up to elections.

They were also accused of raping and murdering opposition activists across the country.-NewZim

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