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War veterans disrupt youth meeting
In what has been described by young people as an infringement on their basic right to free assembly and association, war veterans from the Bruce Clarck ranch in Ntanye stormed into a youth meeting which they alleged was politically motivated to further the interests of the 'opposition'.
The altercation occurred in Gwanda South on 20 November during an NYDT organised policy dialogue meeting to find out young people's views on the effects of holding elections in 2011.
Bhekumusa Moyo, a Programmes Officer with the National Youth Development Trust (NYDT) was confronted on stage by a group of men who claimed to be war veterans and ordered him to address them first before he went any further with his presentation.
"They wanted to know which organisation we were from and who had sent us. They said our meeting was not authorised and that we had no right to gather their sons and daughters for a meeting to which they were not invited" said Moyo.
The war vets, who also threatened to stone the NYDT team's vehicle, have become a source of discontentment amongst villagers in the Gwanda area as they have allegedly stopped a number of civic society institutions and non-governmental organisations from conducting activities in the area in the recent past.
Gilbert Ndlovu, councillor of Ward 14, was one of the participants and assisted in mobilising youths for the meeting, was verbally abused and told to shut up because he got the councillor's position by luck. He was also accused of bringing sell-outs in the form of civic organisations into the area.
One of the organisations that has faced hostility from the group is Habakkuk Trust and villagers fear for their livelihoods as humanitarian organisations have also been threatened out of the Ntanye Village which is facing food shortages.
The disruption was however not enough to silence the youths who went on to tell of how they were being barred from attending some civic society meetings by some of their parents who are strong supporters of ZANU.
Many youths in the village have been forced to join the One-Three/Tuli Training Centre where they are allegedly trained on how to deal with "stubborn opposition supporters" under the National Youth Service policy. Recently Nhlamba was installed as the area chief and awarded a car. His subordinate Kraal-heards have supposedly been financially appeased to crash any opposition potential in the area. Some youths and villagers expressed fears that the 1983 Gukurahundi terror might revisit their area.
NYDT is conducting a series of Policy Dialogue meetings to gather youth views on the holding of elections in 2011 under the theme: "Elections speculated for 2011, what does it mean to the youth?" The meetings are designed to get young people debating on their role in the next election while they get geared up to vote.
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