CONFIDENTIAL reports show that the ruling Zanu (PF) party has a plan that involves drafting tens of thousands of unemployed, often violent street kids, into a neo-Nazi style Mugabe Youth League.
They will be rounded up in towns, sent to rural areas for "ideological re-education" and then out in uniform to patrol the streets of Harare, Bulawayo and other urban areas looking for "dissidents", members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and suspicious-looking foreigners.
If the youngsters - who have no home other than sewers at night or disused warehouses and garages where they live out of dustbins or on what they can steal from shops or passersby - refuse to volunteer, they will be pressganged into the militia.
Robert Mugabe and his cabinet approved the plan in March after Zanu (PF) swept back to power in a general election that was marred by intimidation and violence against the opposition.
Sources said the plan looked good on paper, to rid the streets of troublemakers, clean them up and give them an understanding of their country's history. Street children regularly harass residents, robbing, molesting and in some cases raping.
"But unless these kids are tightly controlled and organised, they will become a law unto themselves," said a media source who asked not to be named. "Many of us now believe Mugabe has gone too far and we would like to link up with a well-organised opposition to stop him - but there is no organised opposition here, just the MDC which is run by white Christians who want to avoid street confrontation with the police and army at all costs."
The government denies that children recruited into the Mugabe Youth will persecute political opponents. "They will be taught the country's history and how Robert Mugabe saved us from white terrorists," said a source.