Chipangano

From Pindula

Chipangano were an Mbare based ‘militia’, who were first noticed in the food riots of 1999, and gained momentum in 2001 opposing the newly formed MDC. The name means “The Oath” “The Pact” or “The Agreement” in Shona. They used violence to control space and resources in the suburb. They were alleged to be in, and under the protection of, Zanu PF, and initially financed by Zanu PF MP and politburo member Tendai Savanhu, a charge that is denied. Zanu PF even denied the group existed. Their leader, for most of their existance, was Jim Kunaka, at times Zanu PF Harare Province Youth Chiarperson. However, the ZRP rarely prevented their activities nor arrested many members. On occasions, the ZNA was called in to deal their behavior.

Its main operations are in the Siya-so and Magaba industrial areas, the Mupedzanhamo flea market, the Mbare Musika, and the bus terminal, although there are some reports of activities in Epworth and Highlands. Operations included regulation / extortion of commuter omnibuses, regulation / extortion of business spaces, commandeering of City Council properties, and extortion on new building / developments. It also forced attendance at Zanu PF rallies.

History

2011

Initially, there were no local reports about Chipangano. At the time, only foreign papers reported on Chipangano. Thus, The Mail and Guardian:

These residents had a chance of better housing—the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation planned to build 80 new homes here, refurbish the hostels and sink a borehole. But, after Chipangano demanded “51%” of the new homes for its members and the right to parcel out the rest as it wished, the project moved on to another township.

The group has seized control of council operations in the township—even taking over a local council office—and now determines who gets to set up stalls at the markets, collecting fees from traders and taxis. At the Mupedzanhamo market, where hundreds of traders sell everything from second-hand clothes to lucky charms, traders need a Zanu-PF membership card and are forced to pay a “protection” fee and a monthly levy to Chipangano. Outside the market scores of young men line the perimeter wall with their pushcarts, waiting to be hired by the traders to carry goods. They must pay a fee or they are not allowed near the market.

Earlier this month violence erupted when Chipangano set up its own “taxi rank” and ordered operators to pay a “toll fee”. Police were overpowered and an army unit had to be called in to restore calm, according to residents.

At Siya-So, a teeming market that sells car parts and other hardware, a Chipangano offshoot calling itself the Zimbabwe Home Industries and Marketers Association hands out stalls to workmen for a fee.

When the party holds a rally in Harare the militia shuts down the markets and force-marches the traders to swell the numbers in the crowd.

Chipangano emerged in 2001, a year after the MDC swept up urban seats in the general election. It has been used as a weapon to cow the party’s urban support, while disrupting the party’s council programmes. Zanu-PF denies it has any control over the group. Spokesperson Rugare Gumbo claims the party is as eager as anyone to find out who is behind the movement. Senior party officials in Mbare also publicly deny any involvement. [1]


Following a later court appearance (in 2013), the Chipangano gang’s activities were reported to have been

  • Taking over US$30,000 per day by charging ‘ranking fees’ at bus terminuses in central Harare and other parts of the city.
  • The “progressive militarisation and zanuisation of public facilities
  • Taking over several council markets like Siyaso and Mupedzanhamo, charging vendors extortionate amounts in fees.
  • Taking over a council building, Carter House, in Mbare, and the council was threatened into silence over the matter. The building was even turned into a terror base for the group.
  • Rampaging through Town House, in full view of police officers, and beat up council employees.
  • The same mob invaded Parliament, beating up MP’s and journalists, but no arrests were made.

[2]


Nandos
South African fast food chain Nando’s has decided to axe their TV advert which poked fun at Zimbabwe’s 87 year old president, Robert Mugabe, as “the last dictator standing”. The decision was made following threats directed at Nandos operations in Zimbabwe by Zanu PF’s violent Chipangano gang. [3]


A militant youth group, known as Chipangano, loyal to Zimbabwe’s president is calling for a boycott of Nando’s restaurant franchise. Jimu Kunaka, the head of a group, said the restaurant chain risked action. [4]

2012

Food Court
In January, Zanu PF Harare province youth chairman, Jim Kunaka, vowed that he would mobilise youths in the coming weeks to halt the Mashwede Diesel Services project. The Chipangano militia group has told workers to stop work, beating all those who resist. This is not the first time that youths in Mbare have blocked development in the suburb. Last year, the Chipangano disrupted a US$5 million housing scheme under the auspices of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that would have resulted in houses being built for the poor in Mbare. The youth group reportedly demanded a 51% share of the houses, ostensibly under the contentious indigenisation policy. [5]


In May, John Murukai a suspected top official of Chipangano, has died. Murukai, died at Parirenyatwa Hospital last Sunday after a short illness. Zanu PF Harare provincial youth chairperson Jim Kunaka yesterday confirmed Murukai’s death. A close relative of Murukai who preferred anonymity said the Kuwadzana 7-based suspected Chipangano leader, whose Chimurenga name was Longchase, was a Zanla commander during the 1970s war of liberation. During the war, Murukai operated in the Mount Darwin area. He remained in the army after independence in 1980 before retiring in 1993. He held the rank of captain at the time of his retirement. Murukai was reportedly heavily involved in Chipanganos operations in and around Harare. [6]


Shots at illegal car sales.
Around August, the ZRP questioned Kunaka in connection with a shoot-out by the militia in a stand-off with municipal police over the demolition of illegal car sale yards in the city. Kunaka and the owner of the illegal car sales company, along Robert Mugabe Road, believed to be a second wife of a senior provincial Zanu PF official, were questioned by detectives at the Law and Order Section of the Harare Central Police Station and freed without charge. Police sources said head of the sect, Kunaka, has been put on a police watch list. [7]

Later, the ZRP launched a manhunt for Kunaka, who is believed to be leader of Zanu PF shadowy militant group, Chipangano. Chipangano members are believed to have been behind the gunfire directed at Harare municipal police officers demolishing illegal car sale yards in Harare. He was wanted because he is believed to be the one who discharged the firearm.

When municipal police began demolishing the car sales, the official’s wife allegedly summoned the Chipangano crew. Dozens of men with deadly weapons besieged the contingent of municipal police, beating the cowering officers. Witnesses said when the crack of gunfire rang out, scores of municipal police officers cried and ran to escape the whips of the Chipangano militia.

The police hunt for Chipangano members comes hardly a month after Zanu PF administration secretary Didymus Mutasa told Zanu PF Harare province chairperson Amos Midzi to swiftly rein-in the militia which has also stalled construction of a $1,2 million food court and service station by businessman Alex Mashamhanda in Mbare. [8]

Food court
In May 2012, Work was halted on a service station and food court near Matapi Police Station in Mbare, (including a ZESA Substation) by Zanu PF Harare province youth chairman, Jim Kunaka. Mashwede Diesel Services, owned by local businessman, Alex Mashamhanda had begun constructing earlier this year. Over 100 youths armed with weapons attacked workers at the site, destroying property and injuring Mashamhanda along with nine workers. [9]

Another report outlines the complex includes a service station and food court, and a ZESA substation. But workers were threatened because Alex Mashamhanda, is accused of supporting the MDC. The latest threats were reportedly issued on Saturday “within ear shot” of the police, (who are based right next door at Matapi Police Station), but no arrestes were made. In February Mashamhanda filed for and received an order of protection from the High Court against Chipangano leader Jim Kunaka (the ZANU PF Harare province youth chairperson), politburo member Tendai Savanhu and Alfonse Gobvu. Saturday’s threats constitute a contempt of court violation, but Mbare MP Piniel Denga told SW Radio Africa it is unlikely any member of the gang will be arrested.

This is not the first time the gang has stopped construction that would have helped Mbare residents. A housing project funded by the Bill Gates Foundation stopped construction last year due to interference by Chipangano members.

The gang has also taken over Council properties and are illegally collecting revenue from City-run parking lots, flea markets and minibus operators. Denga said it is estimated that they make up to $6,000 per day from these illegal ventures. [10]


Zanu PF actions
Within Zanu PF, top chefs were now out to force the dismantling of a group that has since assumed a life of its own outside the party — a rag-tag band that is making a living out of Zanu PF’s name but has since mapped its own survival route. Supposed handler Amos Midzi, disowned the group but Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa confirmed Chipangano existed and blasted Midzi for lying to the people. [11]

Mutasa challenged provincial chairman Ambassador Amos Midzi, to make sure the group was stopped. from tarnishing the image of the party. “We hear that there are some people who are harassing commuters and commuter operators in the name of the party. Cde Midzi if you tell me that you don’t know that group, I will tell you that you are lying. Instead, I want to know what is not ending it.” In his response, Ambassador Midzi acknowledged that there were problems with rank marshals, but said some of them were not under Zanu-PF. [12]


In September 2012, Chipangano members who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent on condition of anonymity confirmed that they had the backing of senior party officials, despite senior Harare Zanu PF officials disowning the terror group. The group has been in existence since 2000, with its major objective being to deal with perceived Zanu PF enemies. Members said former Mbare MP Tendai Savanhu, who lost to Piniel Denga of the MDC-T in 2008, provided the gang with resources. Zanu PF Harare youth chairperson Jim Kunaka was in charge of deploying them. [13]

In September the ZRP were accused of “outsourcing” torture to Chipangano. [14]


Police blitz / Minibus operators complaint

Then Greater Harare Commuter Omnibus Operators Association meet to find ways of forcing authorities to order a crackdown on members of the deadly Chipangano militia. The minibus operators approached Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, who reportedly told them that the former ruling party was not running the extortion ring. In a day, the militia is said to be raking over $30 000. The multi-million dollar minibus taxi industry carries over 60 percent of Zimbabwe’s commuters.

Once Mutasa reportedly disowned Chipangano, the operators approached the ZRP and lodged a report under reference number RRB 151. If police fail to act on the extortion, the operators are threatening to paralyse transport in Harare by pulling kombis off the road until the law enforcement agency takes action. [7] [15]

Police action happened after touts attacked two soldiers at the Charge Office rank and because operators had lodged complaints over the behaviour of the touts. Police arrested 308 rank marshals to restore sanity at ranks. Some of the touts arrested are linked to the notorious and violent Zanu PF Chipangano gang based in Mbare.

Police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka yesterday said: “Where there is breakdown of law and order, we have a legal and moral obligation as a force to ensure that there is order. They charge US$3 per trip amid reports that the operators were losing up to US$20 000 daily to the syndicate. [16]


Residents Association

Chipangano youth militia has resurfaced under the guise of Mbare Residents Association. Jim Kunaka has been confirmed as the chairman of Mbare residents association. Ironically, residents have dissociated themselves from this bogus residents association adding that it was just another Chipangano.

They have also taken over Carter House, an overnight accommodation facility for travelers. Carter house is being used as a ZANU PF office and a ZANU PF flag has been put at this premise, to indicate it now belongs to ZANU PF. Carter house is the official address that is used by Jim Kunaka, and he claims that now he is the rightful owner of number 5 special house.

The City of Harare is not collecting rates and levies from most of the flats and market stalls. Each time council officials try to come and attend to an issue in Mbare, more often than less, they are chased away by these militants who are always vilifying Harare City councilors. [17]

2013

Sunny Zvenyika Chibanda and his wife, who hosted Eric Knight at their home, were assaulted Only the intervention of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) team prevented matters from getting worse. Despite a police report being made at Matapi Police Station no arrests, as usual, have been made.

In Bulawayo ZRP (aided by the CIO) raided the Radio Dialogue offices and confiscated 180 solar and kinetic energy propelled radios from the premises [18]


Kanuka beats wife.
In April, Jim Kunaka was summoned to court after beating up one of his three wives at Mbare Musika terminus in full view of travelling commuters. Kanuka did not even bother to show up at the Harare Civil Court after wife had him arraigned while she sought a protection order. In her testimony she said Kunaka was in the habit of bashing her each time he visits.

Strangely the magistrate failed to bar Kunaka from her home, claiming they were still husband and wife. But the court, in Kunaka’s absence, ordered him to refrain from threatening her and being violent towards her. [2]

2015

Jim Kanuka apologises.

THE former leader of Zanu PF’s Chipangano terror group, Jim Kunaka, has publicly apologised for his past deeds, claiming he was being used as a pawn by top ruling party officials. “I was the political violence master when I was in Zanu PF, but what I want people to know today is that when you join a cult, you behave like the people in that cult,” he told South Africa’s ANN7TV on Wednesday evening during its Africa Tonight special programme. “All the bad things I did while in Zanu PF and Chipangano were not intentional; it was because of the bad system I had got myself into.” [19]


2016

By April, 2016, Chipangano leadership had moved on, however, the suspected godfather of the Mbare-based Chipangano militia, Edward Chataika, died. A former sergeant in the Harare City Council fire brigade and ZANU PF central committee member, he suffered from diabetes.

Chipangano was an infamous violent group of youth who were Zanu PF enforcers at the public markets, particularly the Mbare bus terminus, Carter House, Mupedzanhamo flea-market and the vegetable market. [20]


And in June, Jim Kunaka was leaving Joice Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First party to rejoin Zanu PF. [21]


2018

Kanuka at Mothlane Commission
Former party officials, who included former Harare province youth chairperson Jim Kunaka and legislator Shadreck Mashayamombe spilled ruling party beans of how it has institutionalised violence when they appeared before the former South Africa president Kgaleme The Motlanthe Commission, leaving Zanu PF at a loss for words. Zanu PF youth league national chairperson Pupurai Togarepi described Kunaka as a loose cannon and a danger to himself. [22]

Further Reading

[23]

  1. [1], " Zanu PF’ militia feeds on extortion", Mail and Guardian Radio, Published: 18 August 2011, Retrieved: 1 August 2019
  2. 2.0 2.1 [2], "Zanu PF thug Jim Kunaka beats up wife", Nehanda Radio, Published: 7 April 2013, Retrieved: 1 August 2019
  3. [3], "Nandos ‘chicken out’ of Mugabe dictator advert", Nehanda Radio, Published: 3 December 2011, Retrieved: 2 August 2019
  4. [4], "Some don't like it hot: Mugabe fans call for Nando's boycott", Mail and Guardian, Published: 30 November 2011, Retrieved: 30 July 2019
  5. [5], " Chipangano blocks US$1m project ", The Standard, Published: 28 January 2012, Retrieved: 19 August 2019
  6. [6], " Chipangano militia leader dies", News Day, Published: 7 May 2012, Retrieved: 2 August 2019
  7. 7.0 7.1 [7], " Zanu PF terror gang cornered ", Daily News, Published: 1 September 2012, Retrieved: 1 August 2019
  8. [8], " Zanu PF Chipangano leader on the run?">, Daily News, Published: 18 August 2012, Retrieved: 1 August 2019
  9. [9], " US$1,3m Mbare fuel project in dire state ", The Standard, Published: 12 May 2012, Retrieved: 1 August 2019
  10. [10], " ZANU PF Chipangano gang block construction in Mbare", Wordpress, Published: 27 June 2012, Retrieved: 1 August 2019
  11. [11], " Zanu PF in runaway gang scare ", Daily News, Published: 29 July 2012, Retrieved: 1 August 2019
  12. [12], " Zanu PF finally admit control of Chipangano gang ", The Herald, Published: 24 July 2012, Retrieved: 1 August 2019
  13. [13], " Chipangano is Zanu PF ", The Independent, Published: 7 September 2012, Retrieved: 3 August 2019
  14. [14], "Zimbabwe lawyers take on Chipangano thugs", Nehanda Radio, Published: 13 September 2012, Retrieved: 1 August 2019
  15. [15], " ZANU PF shielding Kunaka and his Chipangano group", Newspress, Published: 7 September 2012, Retrieved: 1 August 2019
  16. [16], "Police blitz sees 308 touts arrested in Harare", Nehanda Radio, Published: 13 September 2012, Retrieved: 1 August 2019
  17. [17], " Chipangano mutates into Mbare Residents Association", Kubatana / CHRA, Published: 9 November 2012, Retrieved: 1 August 2019
  18. [18], " Zanu PF thugs assault family for hosting Eric Knight ", Nehanda Radio, Published: 2 March 2013, Retrieved: 1 August 2019
  19. [19], " Ex-Chipangano leader Jim Kunaka apologises", Newsday, Published: 16 October 2015, Retrieved: 18 August 2019
  20. [20], " Chipangano ‘godfather’ dies ", The Standard, Published: 3 April 2016, Retrieved: 1 August 2019
  21. [21], " Interview: Chipangano terror commander ", The Zimbabwean, Published: 12 June 2016, Retrieved: 1 August 2019
  22. [22], "Zanu PF rattled by renegades’ testimony", Daily News, Published: 23 November 2018, Retrieved: 1 August 2019
  23. [23], "Chipangano Governance: Enablers and Effects of Violent Extraction in Zimbabwe", Published: June 2014, Retrieved: July 2019