VILLAGERS in Ntabazinduna, in Matabeleland North, are demanding the re-opening of the Ntabazinduna Youth Training Centre, which was unilaterally taken from them by government before being converted into a Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) police training depot.
By Musa Dube
The training centre used to train local youths on vocational skills such as welding, carpentry and others before the government took over the institution and turned it into a police training depot sometime in 2006.
Villagers in the drought stricken area told The Standard that the closure of Ntabazinduna Youth Training Centre had dire social and economic effects to the entire community.
One of the villagers, Amos Nare (70), said most of the school leavers in the area had been deprived of the opportunity to advance themselves following the closure of the training centre.
“We had our youth training centre here and it used to serve the whole Matabeleland North. The centre used to offer technical courses in woodwork, welding, agriculture, electrical and engineering,” he said.
“However, after the centre was shut down in 2006 to become a police training depot, most of our children now sit at home doing nothing when they complete their O’Level studies,” said the visibly frustrated Nare.
Another villager, Sinini Ncube, said the closure of the centre had resulted in many unemployed youths skipping the border going to South Africa where they took up menial jobs.
“Most of our children are in neighbouring countries such South Africa and Botswana as where they are working as cleaners, garden boys and house maids. If we had our training centre, they could get professional skills and probably go to those countries with certificates and work as professionals,” said the 62-year-old woman.
The Secretary General of the Bulawayo Business Council Vimba Masuku, who hails from Ntabazinduna, said what irked them was that most of the recruits being trained at the police depot did not come from the area or from the Matabeleland region.
“The police training depot does not benefit the local community because over 90% of the people who are being trained there do not come from anywhere in this region. We are appealing to the relevant stakeholders to take the training centre back to the community since it was a community initiative,” said Masuku.
He said the re-opening of the training centre was not only important to the community but to the regional industries as a whole which needed skilled manpower.
Repeated efforts to get a comment from the Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister, Saviour Kasukuwere were fruitless.