Over 29 000 youth militia still being paid by the state
By Lance Guma
03 April 2009
Two months into a coalition government an estimated 29 000 youth militia members loyal to ZANU PF are still on a government payroll and being listed as civil servants. This week Youth Development Minister Savior Kasukuwere, was quizzed by MDC parliamentarians on the use of the youths by government during the widely condemned and violent June presidential election run-off last year.
A new dimension to the issue erupted with revelations that up to 14 000 youths are still being listed under the Public Service Ministry, while another 15 000 fall under the Women’s Affairs Ministry. This brings the total number on the payroll to an astonishing 29 000. Kasukuwere’s answer in parliament was dismissed as unconvincing, after he claimed they were Youth Officers employed to work in different wards around the country.
With monthly allowances for civil servants pegged at US$100 it means nearly three million US dollars is being spent on paying youths whose only mandate was to terrorize opposition activists. This issue will present a challenging test for the new Minister of the Public Service, Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro, who is from the MDC. Whether he will be able to deal with the matter will test the workability of the coalition government. Newsreel understands the problem has already been forwarded to the Prime Minister’s office for a resolution.
Several years ago the ZANU PF regime set up the Border Gezi youth militia camps to train groups of youths in violence. They were always deployed towards election time to beat up opposition supporters. Wearing their notorious green uniforms they essentially became a para-military force, maiming and killing MDC activists while claiming to be a national youth service promoting patriotism. Many were later absorbed into the current police force.
Wellington Zindove from the Youth Forum told Newsreel that most of the youths in the militia were promised jobs by ZANU PF as a reward for enrolling into the camps. He said this explained how most of them were eventually smuggled into the public service as civil servants and earning money for doing nothing.
Several other ministers are being questioned in parliament about their work. Joint Home Affairs Ministers Kembo Mohadi and Giles Mutsekwa were quizzed on the use of torture by security forces and the abduction of activists. Mines Minister Obert Mpofu was grilled on the killing of miners in the Marange diamond fields, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa on prison conditions while Information, Communication and Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa had to explain the issues of high tariffs in the telecommunications sector.
The parliamentary order paper also listed Defence Minister Emerson Mnangagwa as being lined up to explain the issuing of firearms to retired army personnel and war veterans, in the period leading up to the presidential election run-off last year.