Violence broke out at a public hearing on the National Youth Service (NYS) petition in Bulawayo forcing the meeting to end prematurely.
The Omega Sibanda-chaired committee is consulting the public on the NYS bill which the government wants to introduce.
The government says it is rebranding the notorious NYS and will introduce the programme next year to include early childhood (ECD) learners.
Some youths who were part of the meeting disrupted proceedings when one of the participants expressed reservations about the programme.
The participant who identified herself as Grace Mutanda claimed that an NYS base had been set up in Entumbane suburb.
This assertion did not go down well with some youths who tried to manhandle her.
Another participant identified as Eric Gono was also attacked.
Some of the activists who were milling outside the meeting‘s venue flocked inside and started causing more mayhem by threatening to beat “sellouts” in the meeting.
“Whether you like it or not, we are going to introduce the NYS. We cannot have youths who denigrate their leaders and the country. That will not happen under our watch,” declared the visibly drunk youths.
CITE managed to track down the two participants and they narrated their ordeal.
“I introduced myself and said I am from Entumbane where there was a base, before I could even finish my sentence a group of about 20 youths disrupted proceedings and advanced towards Eric Gono, the previous speaker, who was also booed while he was making his contribution and started assaulting him before coming turning to me,” said the visible shaken Grace.
Mutanda said the chairperson of the Committee tried to protect her but he was outnumbered.
“When I had to leave the venue, the chairperson who was chairing the meeting Omega Sibanda said he will walk me out, when we got to the door, we found some of the youths waiting by the door threatening to assault me. I had to go back and hide inside,” said Mutanda.
Gono said he sustained some injuries during the attack.
“We went there as youths to air our views pertaining to that program and in the middle of giving our views, some youths started disrupting the program, thus when they started attacking me and Grace. I sustained a couple of bruises on my neck, eye, face and a torn shirt,” he said.
He said he was still trying to find a safe place as he fears he might be followed and attacked later on.
The NYS was established in 2001 and folded after six years due to funding challenges.
Appearing before the portfolio committee recently Youth, Sports Arts, and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry said the programme will have a new name, uniforms and curriculum.