THE decision by the ruling Zanu-PF government to re-engage the “Green Bombers” ahead of next month’s general elections raises a stink given their record of being used as pawns to harass and beat up opposition activists.
Zimbabweans are aware that the Green Bombers – as graduates of the infamous national youth service are known – were at the forefront of former President Robert Mugabe’s terror campaigns after they joined forces with State security apparatuses to suppress dissent.
Once led by former Youth Affairs minister and disgraced Zanu-PF commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, the youth brigades operated against the will of the majority mainly forcing citizens to vote for Zanu-PF.
It is against this spirit that citizens would always condemn the move by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Zanu-PF to engage the services of this notorious group once more.
In fact, what Mnangagwa needs is a clear message that the election will be never be held in a free, fair and credible manner. Not with Green Bombers roaming the length and breadth of the countryside, never!
By dispatching the youth graduates, Mnangagwa is simply admitting that he has realised that his chances of winning the July 30 without use of violence were close to none, and now wants to use coercion as a way of snatching a win against all odds.
We believe the spirit of any national youth service is noble, as it seeks to raise patriotic young Zimbabweans with a fierce loyalty to their nation and could avail themselves to serve when necessity arises, but we are against the way the programme has been manipulated by Zanu-PF for self-serving purposes. Hence, the programme has been muddled in Zanu-PF politics and consequently lost its national appeal.
Reports that Zanu-PF has roped in the youths to assist it in mobilising support for its candidates such as chairperson Joel Biggie Matiza in Mashonaland East and elsewhere are worrisome and regretted.
No doubt, there are efforts to break away from the past in which there was a lot of intimidation of opposition political parties’ supporters – some of it perpetrated by these youths.
So, it does not augur well for the future to recall these youth for party purposes.
This raises fear that we are not really willing to break away from the past, as Mnangagwa parrots. This simply confirms that Zanu-PF has not really changed, or if it has, the change is merely cosmetic, perhaps to deceive the West that has branded Zimbabwe a pariah state for many years under Mugabe’s watch.
The fact that the move was triggered by ruling party rebels’ decision to contest as an independent candidates on July 30 proves that Zanu-PF may be ready to use whatever means possible, including abusing what is supposed to be a national programme, to gain or retain power.
Zanu-PF has never taken kindly to opposition particularly that which involves its former members and we pray that these youth will not be used to force the majority villagers to throw in their lot with the party if they are willing to back the opposition.
We urge Zanu-PF to simply use its manifesto to woo potential supporters, and not bullying tactics or any strong-arms.