Founder of Green Bombers spills the beans


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A man claiming to be a founder of the notorious youth militia, popularly known as the Green Bombers, told United States embassy officials that the first recruits to the National Youth Service, as it was officially called, were trained for the express purpose of playing a role in the upcoming presidential elections.

Prosper Izaya said that he was heavily involved with NYS from its inception in 2001, following the 2000 parliamentary elections in which ZANU-PF faced substantial opposition for the first time.

He said he had personally commanded a unit of youth militia who, in cooperation with Chenjerai Hunzvi’s war veterans, carried out a pre-election campaign of political violence in Mashonaland West from Kariba to Kadoma.

He left the NYS after the 2005 elections because he was no longer comfortable with the breadth of militia violence to become a teacher.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE640, YOUTH MILITIA FOUNDER DESCRIBES LEGACY OF

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE640

2008-07-29 14:52

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000640

 

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DRL FOR K. GILBRIDE

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/29/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: YOUTH MILITIA FOUNDER DESCRIBES LEGACY OF

ELECTORAL VIOLENCE

 

Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: On July 28, Emboffs met with Prosper Izaya,

who claimed to be among the founders of Zimbabwe’s National

Youth Service (NYS), the official name of the government’s

notoriously violent youth militia. Izaya relayed his

involvement in NYS’s inception in 2001, the first civilian

attacks in 2002, the organization’s expansion after the 2002

national election and his eventual departure for the teaching

profession following the youth militia’s violent role in the

2005 parliamentary election. Izaya went on to describe

ongoing violence and farm seizures in his home area of

Mashonaland Central, for which he holds Muzarabani South’s

ZANU-PF MP responsible. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) On July 28, ARSO and poloff met with Prosper Izaya,

who claimed to be among the founders of Zimbabwe’s National

Youth Service (NYS), the official name of the government’s

notoriously violent youth militia (also known as the Green

Bombers in a reference to their uniforms). Since 2001, the

NYS has a well-documented history of perpetrating, with

impunity, human rights abuses against civilians, including

politically-motivated violence, farm invasions and torture.

Over the past several years, the media and NGOs have accused

NYS leadership of abusing its oft destitute recruits at NYS

training camps, including providing substandard housing,

employing food depravation, and sexually abusing female

recruits.

 

3. (C) After nervously requesting that Emboffs guarantee

the confidentiality of the discussion, Izaya stated that he

was heavily involved with NYS from its inception in 2001,

following the 2000 parliamentary elections in which ZANU-PF

faced substantial opposition for the first time.

International observers reported extensive electoral fraud in

that election. Izaya’s efforts included the drafting of the

first training modules and the intake of NYS’s first class of

recruits at Border Gezi training camp in Mt. Darwin,

Mashonaland Central, approximately 250 km north of Harare.

(NOTE: The naming of the training camp after ZANU-PF hero

Border Gezi, who, together with former War Veteran

Association President Chenjerai ‘Hitler’ Hunzvi, spearheaded

the use of war veterans and youth militia to inflict

political violence, reflects the violent and anti-Western

political ideology of the NYS. END NOTE.) Described by

Izaya as youths aged 10-30 with little education who were

seeking to obtain government jobs after their service, the

first NYS recruits were trained for the express purpose of

playing a role in the upcoming presidential election.

 

4. (C) The class graduated from training in December 2001

and was deployed with the intent of perpetrating violence

against opposition supporters in the run-up to the

presidential election. Izaya stated that he personally

commanded a unit of youth militia who, in cooperation with

Hunzvi’s war veterans, carried out a pre-election campaign of

political violence in Mashonaland West from Kariba to Kadoma.

The 2002 election was ultimately deemed not free or fair by

observers, who noted pre-election and election day violence.

Izaya then described his role in the NYS’s expansion after

the “successful” 2002 election, noting that the militia grew

quickly from an initial intake class of 100 in 2001 to

classes of thousands by the following year. ZANU-PF bases in

towns across Zimbabwe served as recruiting centers and

numerous training camps were established throughout the

country, all with the goal of training youth militia “for use

in the forefront of violence.”

 

5. (C) Izaya stated that after the 2005 parliamentary

elections, which were boycotted by a faction of the

 

HARARE 00000640 002 OF 002

 

 

opposition and deemed not free or fair by observers, he

became uncomfortable with the breadth of militia violence and

left the NYS to take a teaching position with the Ministry of

Education (he claims to have a degree in Sociology from the

University of Zimbabwe). Izaya continues to teach in

Muzarabani South, Mashonaland Central, but said he is no

longer affiliated with the Ministry. Izaya went on to

describe ongoing violence, displacements, and farm seizures

in his home area, for which he holds ZANU-PF Muzarabani South

MP Edward Raradza responsible. Raradza, a tobacco farmer and

vice-president of the government-affiliated Zimbabwe Farmers

Union, ran unopposed in the ZANU-PF stronghold during the

March 29, 2008 by-election. According to Izaya (and multiple

media reports), Raradza has orchestrated numerous attacks on

opposition supporters and farms in his constituency since

national elections in March. Izaya stated that following a

recent police roundup of ZANU-PF thugs in Muzarabani, Raradza

paid their fines and ensured their release, though poloff has

not been able to confirm this. Izaya reported that some

schools remain closed and many Zimbabweans in the area are

displaced as a result of the violence.

 

6. (C) Izaya offered to provide further information on

political violence and the NYS to Emboffs in future,

including NYS paperwork and training modules (NOTE: It was

unclear whether Izaya had access to new NYS materials or was

offering only historical documents. END NOTE.) Izaya stated

that as a result of his “position” and the political

situation, he was concerned for his safety if the information

he was shared was attributed. Apparently seeking some kind

of Embassy assurance as to his safety, Izaya noted that he

might be comfortable with the information becoming public “in

the near future, once an embassy relationship was

established.” Emboffs stated that they could not provide

such protection.

 

7. (C) COMMENT: It is unclear what additional information

Izaya might have access to given his departure from the NYS

some years ago. Nonetheless, his description of the

evolution of the NYS demonstrates the systematic use of youth

militias to control electoral periods and perpetrate violence

since the rise of the opposition in 2000, and highlights the

continuing importance of the NYS to the regime. Likewise,

his reports of ongoing government-sponsored violence in

Mashonaland Central supports other reporting we have received

and indicate the continuation of ZANU-PF intimidation

tactics, regardless of recent good-faith claims by Mugabe

administration officials. END COMMENT.

 

MCGEE

 

(75 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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