Government is planning to introduce compulsory national service for all youths completing their Ordinary Level studies, President Mugabe has said. Addressing people who gathered here to celebrate the 29th anniversary of the 21st February Movement celebrations on Saturday, President Mugabe said resources were already being mobilised to fund the programme.
If the programme is implemented, Zimbabwe will join several other countries in the region like South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia and Lesotho which have national service for their youths. Many other countries in the world have such a programme, while national service has a long tradition in the United States where it extends to the founding of the country and takes multiple forms including serving in the military.
President Mugabe said the government also wanted to review the education curriculum in line with the national aspirations of educating employers and entrepreneurs instead of job seekers.
He said national youth service was paramount for youth development and to maintain high moral standards and self-discipline. “We want to enhance our national service training,” he said. “It’s an important training indeed. We would want to get to a stage where every student will have gone through national service training at O-Level, so we want to build resources towards that.
“We will do it in stages progressively until we’ve enough funds to cover the whole country so that we’ve a paradigm shift in education. In other words, our education system is stereotyped. There’s too much emphasis on just academic subjects.
“This should see us reviewing the education curriculum, bringing it in line with the current national aspirations of creating employers rather than employees out of the educational system & to educate students for self employment rather than for employment under institutes. We will do both.”
In line with this, President Mugabe said, government had set up the ministry responsible for psychomotor skills. He said it was government’s aim to set up a vocational training centre in every district. “We believe this will go a long way in producing a production-oriented education which encompasses both, in line with the mandate to ensure youth development,” said President Mugabe.
“Indigenisation and empowerment has been created to ensure that this is achieved. The ministry (of psycho-motor skills) seeks among other things to facilitate youth empowerment creation, skills development and high moral standards.”
President Mugabe said the knowledge that the youths acquire from universities and colleges should be used to create employment.
He said the government was ready to assist young entrepreneurs who organised themselves to start businesses.
“This knowledge we’re giving you are skills that must go with the story of our independence,” he said. “Use the skills to exploit our resources for our Zimbabwean people; don’t come from the university just ready to work for Europeans.
“That’s a very wrong disposition in our education. You come from university and say ‘I want a job’ yet you studied engineering. The government is saying jobs are there, invest in mining. Put yourselves together and government will help you get equipment. We’ll do our best to get the necessary technology.”
President Mugabe said at times those that the government helped started engaging in corrupt activities and “you then wonder if universities and colleges were training people to steal”.
On politics, President Mugabe said former Zanu-PF Mashonaland East provincial chairman Cde Ray Kaukonde was shielding 163 white farmers in the province at the expense of desperate locals in need of land.
He said farm audits, which helped uncover Cde Kaukonde’s shenanigans, would cascade to other provinces this week.
President Mugabe said the 163 farms were not the only ones as the audit was yet to cover the entire Mashonaland East province.
“I was talking to the Minister of Lands (and Rural Resettlement Dr Douglas Mombeshora) and it was just yesterday,” he said. “We were looking at each and every province and we started with Mashonaland East. In Goromonzi alone there are 40 (farms).
“From Goromonzi to Mutoko, Murehwa, further down, there are 123 and mind you this is Mashonaland East only. Then I said okay some of our leaders were hiding them (whites) in farms and saying the farms have been taken, so I said let’s stop here.
“Forty and 123 in just a small district of our country. From Goromonzi, Murehwa, Mutoko, 40 plus 123 whites are still hiding on farms. How many farms are those, 123 farms plus 40 that’s 163 farms that were hidden by Kaukonde.
“So, I said next week we continue with the audit in the whole province and see how many whites are still there. We’ll proceed to Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Masvingo, Manicaland, Midlands, Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North.”
President Mugabe said those white farmers were the ones controlling sugarcane farms and coffee and plantation estates.
He said another worrying trend was still in the safari sector where whites still dominate.
“We wanted our animals to be free, but there are lots of safaris in the forests,” said President Mugabe. “Very few are African, the majority are white. In our region we’ve the most safaris and most animals – elephants, lions, leopards and cheetahs not to mention buffaloes, antelopes and zebras.