South Africa copies Zimbabwe’s brutal youth national service programme

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South Africa has resolved to carbon copy Zimbabwe’s condemned national service for all youths.

Zimbabwe introduced national service for youths that quickly turned into a military brigade for Zanu PF and unleashed violence on opposition supporters.

The graduates of the service are known pejoratively as green bombers after the fatigue uniforms they wear.

Two weeks ago, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) announced that it was considering introducing national service for young South Africans.

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said the programme is necessary “to instill discipline to the youths”.

“We would like to have a period in which we take your children and give them a bit of discipline. The biggest problem we have in this country is the discipline we have in our youth” she said.

Sisulu said the two year training “would be voluntary, and not compulsory as in the apartheid era.”

However, on Thursday, the youth wing of the ruling African National Congress, led by its controversial leader Julius Malema said they will be the first to undergo military training in September.

In a joint statement to the media Thursday, Sisulu and ANC youth league said “the national service will allow unemployed young people to learn both basic military training and much needed skills to equip them for their future,”

“Whilst undergoing a two year basic military training in one of the (SA National Defence Force) services – The Army, Air Force, Navy and Medical Health Services – they will also learn various skills and also get practical work experience they can use in the future.”

Reports say the ANC youth league called for the speedy implementation of national service.

Malema said: “As the ANCYL, we have been calling for this programme for a long time. We would want the minister to ensure that no young person is turned away when the programme starts. It must start as soon as possible.

“I also hope that this programme will teach our young people to know their flag, national symbol and our rich history, but as the ANCYL we are ready to mobilise our members and all young South Africans in support of this programme,” he said.

In Zimbabwe the National Youth Service programme caters for youths between ages 10 to 30.

Its stated purpose was to “transform and empower youths for nation building through life skills training and leadership development” but was soon condemned in the West and in Africa for gross human rights violations on behalf of the Zanu PF.

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