FOR several years Chipangano, a violent Zanu PF-aligned militia group, has been terrorising all those who do not support the former ruling party with impunity.
Report by Caiphas Chimhete
They violently occupied council buildings, refused to pay rentals and even blocked developmental projects in Mbare perceived to have been initiated by MDC-T supporters or anyone other than Zanu PF.
In Harare, they control most commuter bus ranks, flea markets and council-owned flats, depriving the local authority of much-needed funds.
When Zanu PF is holding political rallies, they force-march residents and commuters to attend the meetings.
But in Chipangano, Zanu PF appears to have created a Frankenstein’s monster.
In the past few weeks, the shadowy group has morphed into a creature that is destroying its own creator.
Analysts say Chipangano was resisting calls by Zanu PF to reform because doing so would also mean the end of their source of income and power.
Reports say the militia group was once bankrolled by Zanu PF Harare province chairman Amos Midzi, MP Hubert Nyanhongo and the party’s politburo member, Tendai Savanhu.
The three have all distanced themselves from the rogue organisation.
Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa recently admitted that the party structures in Harare were marred by chaotic infighting in recent district elections. He ordered Midzi to make sure that the violence was stopped as Chipangano was disenchanting supporters and damaging the image of the party.
But even after Mutasa’s order, some members of Chipangano tried to block the demolition of illegal car sales in Harare, firing gun shots in an attempt to scare away municipal police.
After the shooting, police questioned Zanu PF Harare youth leader Jimmy Kunaka, the alleged leader of Chipangano.
Social commentator, Precious Shumba said it was now difficult for Zanu PF to rein in members of the group because they were getting a lot of money through demanding protections fees, grabbing market stalls in Mbare green market, Mupedzanhamo and Siya-so.
“The politicians used them for a long time but now they have their own resources and it is difficult to control them because this is their source of livelihood,” said Shumba. “Some of them are now rich and run businesses from proceeds of violence.”
Shumba, who is founder of the Harare Residents Trust (HRT), said disbanding the militia group would have far-reaching implications to the former ruling party which has for years relied on violence and intimidation to “win” elections.
“It’s a complicated network,” he said. “It can’t just be disbanded without damaging effects on the political dynamics in Zanu PF.”
But University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Shakespeare Hamauswa said shadowy organisations such as Chipangano were common in African politics and they saved the political interests of certain individuals and not the whole party.
He said the fact that Zanu PF had not disbanded the organisation was a sign of factionalism within the former ruling party.
“Chipangano is fighting for the political life of certain individuals in Zanu PF,” said Hamauswa. “It’s a sign of factionalism in the party, that is why some want it disbanded while others are just quiet.”