Tendai Kamhungira 17 July 2017
HARARE – Communities in some of the country’s major towns are living in
fear of ruling party youths who are operating terror gangs that are
extorting money from informal and formal traders while harassing residents
they perceive as opposed to Zanu PF, which has started campaigning for
next year’s polls.
The resurfacing of the terror groups has heightened fears that the
upcoming elections could see violence flaring up in key battlegrounds as
the main political actors – Zanu PF and the MDC – go toe to toe in the
An international think tank, the United States Centre for Preventative
Action (CPA), warned last month that Zimbabwe risks plunging into violence
even before the crunch polls.
CPA was, however, concerned more with the infighting in President Robert
Mugabe’s Zanu PF, spawned by the emotive succession debate that has
triggered violence in some parts of the country.
Amid indications that Mugabe might call for an early poll to catch his
rivals flat-footed, the Daily News can report that Zanu PF terror groups
are rearing their ugly heads again.
In Kwekwe, the notorious “Al-Shabaab” group is reportedly on the prowl,
harassing residents and traders.
Named after the Somalia-based terrorist affiliate of al-Qaeda fighting to
turn the country into a fundamentalist Islamic State, Al-Shabaab has been
blamed for many attacks in the troubled Midlands province.
In Harare’s oldest high density suburb of Mbare, a group of Zanu PF
youths, known as Chipangano, is terrorising vendors at Mbare Musika by
demanding substantial amounts of money to allow them to vend at the
popular vending site.
Chipangano – loosely translated to mean an agreement or oath – is a terror
group known for ruthlessly dealing with residents and members of the
It is believed to have started its operations in 1999 at the height of the
food riots that were triggered by soaring prices of basic goods.
The group is allegedly being led by Zanu PF youth chairperson for ward 4
Mbare, Kuda Mavhuza, who reportedly has the backing of Edson Takataka, the
Zanu PF Harare youth provincial leader, who denied any association with it
after being contacted for comment yesterday.
“I do not know what is happening exactly and I am yet to receive reports
to that effect. I will investigate the issue to get the full details of
what is transpiring,” Takataka told the Daily News.
But according to Takayiona Musvuti, who ferries small-scale farmers from
rural areas to sell their wares at Mbare Musika, the terror gang is
harassing men and women who do their business at the major trading market
which acts as the distribution centre for agricultural produce in
Mbare Musika is also the major bus station for rural-bound and incoming
“We are being terrorised and the man at the forefront is Zanu PF youth
chairperon for Mbare ward 4, (Kuda) Mavhaza, who operates together with
“Takataka once came to me and told me kuti ndiri kuda kuti vakomana vangu
vadyewo (I want my boys to benefit out of the vendors),” Musvuti claimed.
He added, “He (Takataka) later sent Kuda who then demanded $500 per week.
I told him that I could not afford to pay such an amount of money because
of the nature of my trade.
“On the first day, I gave him $20; he came back again and I gave him $18
and another $10.
“But he kept demanding more money, claiming it is not enough. Besides me,
many people are also being asked to pay money; they are taking money from
all the vendors.”
According to Musvuti, the group claims to be collecting the money on
behalf of the Harare City Council, although council spokesperson, Michael
Chideme, told the Daily News last week that they have no agents that
collect money from vendors on their behalf.
“The position is that we don’t deal with third parties. We collect the
money directly from the vendors. We have no other contract with anybody to
collect money on our behalf. Whoever is doing this is doing it illegally,”
Musvuti said he has done everything to seek justice, including engaging
the alleged owners of open spaces on which the illegal activities are
taking place, but with no joy, as the terror gangs have stayed put.
“Sometime this week, the Zanu PF youths came and collected $952 from the
small-scale farmers and a further $736, which included money that I was
supposed to be paid for transporting the vendors.
“I have since reported the matter to the police under case number RRB
3200675,” Musvuti said.
Despite making the report at Mbare Police Station, nothing has been done
to bring the culprits to book, according to Musvuti.
He also alleges that when he brought the police officers to effect arrest,
they could not apprehend the culprits, claiming it was a violent clique.
Some of the vendors who spoke to the Daily News on condition of anonymity
at Mbare Musika said they were being robbed of their hard-earned cash in
broad daylight and they feel they have no one to protect them.
The Daily News can report that with unemployment touching 90 percent, Zanu
PF youths are taking advantage of the situation to establish terror gangs
in several centres, where they are making life difficult for residents.
In Mutare, an extension of the Chipangano group was set up. This group
collects money from commuter omnibus operators, which they pocket for
The group was created in the run-up to the 2013 elections, when the then
leader of the notorious clique, Jim Kunaka, travelled to the province.
According to sources close to the group, its leader pockets a cool $200 on
a daily basis, and $3 000 every month, while his runners, collect $0,50
cents for every commuter omnibus that ferries people from the city-council
owned ranks, on a daily basis.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Local Government minister and Zanu PF
national political commissar Savior Kasukuwere said the party had no room
“That will not be tolerated,” he said.
Kasukuwere had no kind words for the City of Harare, which is controlled
by councillors from the MDC, saying he will soon summon its mayor, Bernard
Manyenyeni, to restore order.
“We are really concerned that the City of Harare is allowing chaos to
happen again in our city. I am going to summon the Harare mayor to deal
with the issue, because we cannot allow people to sell everywhere. Vendors
must have their places and there are such places designated for them. We
do not want to see this chaotic scenario, because it is dangerous to
motorists and members of the public,” said Kasukuwere.
“The city has to build necessary areas for vendors and not for them to
flood the city. The council has municipal police and must make use of
that,” he added.
Efforts to get comment from police spokesperson Charity Charamba were
fruitless yesterday, as her mobile phone went unanswered.
The latest development has re-ignited fears that the country might relapse
into another bloody election reminiscent of the 2008 violence.
Human Rights Watch has previously said Zanu PF was responsible, “for
widespread and systematic abuses that led to the killing of up to 200
people, the beating and torture of 5 000 more, and the displacement of
about 36 000 people” during the 2008 elections.
While the 2008 polls were probably the deadliest, Zanu PF has been known
to resort to violence whenever its hold on power comes under threat.
When the late Edgar Tekere ran against Mugabe in the 1990 presidential
race as the candidate of the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (Zum), his supporters
were targets of violent attacks and five candidates were murdered.
Those who were convicted of the attempted murder of a Zum official – late
former Gweru mayor Patrick Kombayi – who was shot in the lower abdomen but
survived the shooting, were pardoned immediately afterwards.