Harare – The national Youth Service graduates and Zanu PF ghost workers who were retrenched from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) last year have threatened to withdraw their support for Zanu PF in next year’s crucial election, Khuluma Afrika has learnt.
GMB has been retrenching workers since last year, a move which has seen nearly 2000 employees rendered jobless. Of that figure, a whooping1200 are national youth service graduates.
In 2011 an audit done by Ernst & Young (India) on behalf of the Ministry of Public Service unearthed more than 75 000 ghost workers, most of them unqualified Zanu PF militias and supporters who have been employed in various parastatals.
The discovery of thousands of ghost workers — including 6 861 employed in one day in one ministry — alarmed government ministers and stakeholders who say it revealed the extent of Zanu PF’s abuse of office to create a huge patronage network using the public service at the expense of taxpayers.
Using recommendations from the finance ministry to cut on the wage bill GMB engaged in massive retrenchments.
The retrenched employees at one time camped outside the parastatal head office for two weeks and appealed to well-wishers for water and ablution facilities as there was no immediate solution to the standoff.
Zanu PF sources this week said the graduates have vowed not to be active in the campaigns and mobilisation which they always do in elections.
“This is a time bomb because the graduates are co-ordinating so they say unless government intervenes they will not be part of the election campaign,” the source said.
One of the graduates said: “When we graduated we were told that we will be assigned to various parastatals. This was also used as a bait to attract the youths to join the youth service. Now that we have been dumped I do not see how we will participate in next year’s elections.”
In all previous bloody elections Zanu PF has always used the national youth service graduates as storm troopers.
The graduates have in the past helped President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF retain power by unleashing a reign of terror — especially in rural communities — where they routinely perpetrate the torture, assault and intimidation of opposition supporters and activists.
Owing to their reputation for violence, and the fact that they don green uniforms, graduates of the programme are widely known by the nickname Green Bombers.
While celebrating his 93rd birthday Mugabe called for the reintroduction of the controversial National Youth Service (NYS) programme ahead of next year’s election. The programme was stopped in 2009 after the formation of the inclusive government.
Last year the cash strapped GMB sent home more than 1,600 workers using the infamous Chidyausiku court ruling which gave employers powers to retrench employees on three months’ notice.
According to the United States Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010, the NYS, which was suspended in 2007 due to lack of funding, provided militia training to approximately 80 000 youths at more than 150 camps.
The youths took part and became integral members of Mugabe’s violent policies, including taking part in land invasions.
Mugabe has on numerous occasions defended NYS, saying the training programme is necessary to instil national pride, discipline and moral uprightness among the youths.
Unlike in other countries like Nigeria and South Africa, where national service promotes national values and instils discipline and true patriotism among youths, in Zimbabwe the graduates of the program have been conscripted into Zanu PF youth militia.