After the party, which broke away from its 22-year-old unity with President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF in December 2008, launched in South Africa in 2009, the youths say they were promised educational bursaries, which would see them complete their education at South African schools.
“They sweet-talked us and blamed Mugabe’s government for failing especially the people of Matabeleland by failing to provide Secondary schools in the region. They promised to make sure that we continue from where we left and it all seemed promising,” said one of the youths, who applied for a bursary to complete high school.
“They told us to bring our curriculum vitas (CVs) to the party’s offices in Yeoville and assured that they had found a sponsor for us, adding that by January-February 20010, those seeking to complete high school and those who want to go to university would be enrolled, but now they are giving us the run-around.” While some said they were promised that the bursaries would be unconditional, there were others who said that they were first lured into joining the party for “things to move smoothly” for them.
“Many of us bought party cards with the hope that we would be first in the educational bursaries and had become active members of the party, but nothing seems to be happening and several young people have left the party already,” said another youth member, who said he was on the verge of quitting the party.
An administrator with the strife-torn party, who requested not to be named, confirmed that youths were promised bursaries by the party’s leadership, but nothing has been said to date about that, adding that no-one had benefited in South Africa so far.
“We still have over 3 000 applications in our office, but none of the applicants has benefited so far and the party has not said anything to them since they applied,” said the party member.
“It just looks like this was a campaign gimmick meant to lure the youths, especially those from Matabeleland, who are obviously not happy with Mugabe as they did not complete their schooling. However, it looks to be backfiring on us now, as most youths who joined on that basis are no longer active in the party and we continue to lose them. It looks like there was no sponsor at all because Zapu itself has no sponsor as a party.”
Zapu SA’s Youth Front National Executive Committee member, Mlamuli Nkomo, downplayed the broken promises on Monday, when he told The Zimbabwean that the party had no funds to sponsor any education for the youths. “No one is lured into the party for material gain and Zapu does not have resources to give individuals for personal gain,” said Nkomo. “The party did assist students at NUST sometime last year but there was never a promise, the party came on board when there was a situation whereby students were failing to pay for their tuition.”
Pressed on by our reporter, who was earlier also told that the party would sponsor some students in South Africa, Nkomo changed course and said that the programme was meant for beneficiaries of the party’s former military wing – ZPRA Veterans.
“There was/still a programme to benefit dependent of ZPRA Veterans, but speak to the Veterans on that issue, it is not a Zapu Youth Front initiative,” said Nkomo.
“Members of the Youth Front sacrifice their time, and little resources towards building our movement. The issue of material gain is alien to our movement. Those who want to be rich should join MDC-T and Zanu PF.” No comment could be obtained from the ZIPRA SA chairman, Themba Khanye, who was said to be in Zimbabwe at the time of going to print, while Zapu spokesman, Luke Sayi, could also not be reached for comment, as his mobile phone went unanswered. – The Zimbabwean