Jim Kunaka
Jim Kunaka, Chipangano, Politician
BornJim Kunaka
NationalityZimbabwe
Occupation
  • Politician.
Criminal chargeFraud
Children3

Jim Kunaka is a politician and National Patriotic Front member. He's a former ZANU PF youth leader mostly known for having led a violent youth group called Chipangano, which meted out violence on opposition party members in Harare.

In 2018, when he appeared before the Motlanthe Commission, Kunaka claimed that he had played a key role in violence meted out on MDC-T especially during the 2008 elections. He accused the army of killing people during the 1 August 2018 protests and urged the commission to consider ZANU-PF's alleged history of violence.

Personal Details

Father - Francis Kunaka.
Reportedly three wives.
Father of three.
Resident of Mbare.
No further information could be found on his age, place of birth, or family.

School / Education

No information could be found on his Junior or High School, or any tertiary education.

Service / Career

Kunaka made claims to the effect that he never joined Zanu-PF but was born into it because of his father, Francis Kunaka, whom he claimed was a war veteran within the party. It was also said that his political career was influenced by individuals such as Tendai Savanhu and Amos Midzi.

Jim Kunaka became the Harare Province Youth Chairperson for ZANU PF when he was elected to the post in the 2008 election.[1]

Apart from being a youth chairman, Kunaka was also an employee of the Harare City Council where he worked as a market attendant. In an interview with the a local paper, Kunaka was quoted as having said

I see to the running of the markets, make sure that people are paying their rents and I will check the tickets as they come.[1]

Kunaka lost the chairmanship of the province to fellow party member, Godfrey Gomwe[1]


Events

Wife Beating

In April 2013, 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 the 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]

Chipangano

There have been widespread media reports which have linked Jim Kunaka with the group that is known as Chipangano. The group is based in Mbare and it is also alleged that the group unleashes terror on those considered its opponents. However, Kunaka has flatly denied these allegations and has also refuted knowing of the existence of such a group at all. Kunaka pointed out that

I don’t really know what Chipangano is? Is it an animal? A beer hall? A what? I only read it from the newspapers. People trying to align myself (sic) to Chipangano[1]

There were also other reports which claimed that Kunaka was causing havoc in Mbare where he was alleged to be in the habit of collecting money from vendors who sold their their merchandise at Mbare musika.
Besides being linked to the Chipangano group, Kunaka made the headlines when it was reported that he had stolen $4 000 from the city council which was meant to pay other workers employed by the city council. Harare Deputy Mayor was reported as having claimed that Jim Kuunaka was allegedly taking home an excess of $4 000 a day from the market stall vendors at Mbare msika while the city council was receiving nothing.[3] Deputy Mayor Muzuwa was quoted as having said

The money from Mbare is going into the pocket of one individual – Jim Kunaka – while council is not getting a cent. He (Kunaka) has the power to hold (town clerk Tendai Mahachi) and tell him that he needs money. We have a town clerk who just sits there in his office while some people are abusing council resources. We have so many council properties, so many market stalls in Mbare not bringing anything to council. Every day over 400 buses use Mbare termini and are charged $10 each but council is not getting anything. Honestly we can’t allow an individual like Kunaka in grade sixteen to take $4000 on a daily basis at the bus termini when council is not getting, anything. This is an offence which lands some to be fired because it is his duty to push his directors to work and bring money[3]

Ouster and Return to Zanu-PF

In 2014, Kunaka together with some senior Zanu-PF officials were ousted from the party at the ZANU PF 6th National People's Congress. He was part of Joice Mujuru's Zimbabwe People First. In June 2016 there were reports that he had defected back to ZANU-PF.[4]

Abduction and Beating

In November 2014, Kunaka was abducted by unknown assailants who went on to beat him up before dumping him just outside of the central business district in Harare. In an interview with Kunaka soon after he had been hospitalised he said

I was at Helping Hand near Carter House in Mbare when four men arrived and demanded to see me. I asked them what they wanted, but they refused to tell me. I went aside with them, and one of them then ordered others to arrest me. I screamed for help when they indicated that they wanted to abduct me. One of them ordered his colleagues to collect an AK47 (assault rifle) from the truck, pointed it at me and dispersed the crowd.[5]

Although it was far from clear why Kunaka was abducted and beaten up, there were reports linking the assault on Kunaka to political motivations and factionalism. Jim Kunaka commenting on his abduction was quoted saying that he suspected that the whole thing had been ochestrated by Harare Youth Provincial Chairman Godwin Gomwe.[6] In responding to the claims by Kunaka, Gomwe noted that

I only heard about that story when the NewsDay phoned me asking,” he said. “I am not linked to that in any way[6]

A week before his beating, Kunaka had been previously caught up in the factional fights that erupted in Harare South where Zanu-PF youths linked to the constituency’s legislator Cde Shadreck Mashayamombe ran amok and savagely attacked their opponents, leaving many injured.[6]

Jim Kanuka apologises

In 2015, Jim Kunaka, (the former leader of Zanu PF’s Chipangano terror group) 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.” [7]

Changes Party

In June 2016, Jim Kunaka was leaving Joice Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First party to rejoin Zanu PF. [8]

Motlanthe Revelation

In November 2018, when he appeared before the Motlanthe Commission, Kunaka claimed that following Robert Mugabe's loss to Morgan Tsvangirai in the first round of the presidential election, he led violence against the MDC-T that saw many abducted and murdered. Kunaka claimed that as part of the Zanu-PF youths, they met with members of the military at the Zanu PF headquarters basement where they received instructions to defend the revolution after the late MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai had won the election against former President Robert Mugabe.

“There is a meeting that took place in the Zanu PF headquarters basement. Zanu PF had lost elections in 2008, we were called, especially me by the military personnel and I was told that Zimbabwe will not have a power transfer through a pen and ballot paper. I was told to go and defend the revolution, I was told to do anything and you know what I did,”[9]

Kunaka claimed that Zanu-PF had planned the 1 August (2018) election violence that resulted in the death of 6 people because it had lost and needed to created a situation to retain power.

And also - 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 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. [10]

Blast from Churches

Zimbabwe Amalgamated Churches Council patron Jimayi Muduvuri criticised Jimu Kunaka’s testimony before the Motlanthe commisssion of inquiry into the 1 August 2018, post-election violence.

As churches, we are left with no option except to say that Zanu-PF might have been right after all in expelling him since by his own admission he is a violent person. But the bigger picture as a nation is that let us focus on the present challenges and how should we achieve our national objectives.

[11]

Incitment to Provoke Public Violence

In January 2021, it was reported that Jim Kunaka had been denied bail. He was facing charges of incitement to participate in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breach of Peace or bigotry and an alternative charge of incitement of gatherings of more than 50 people without permission and contravening the Public health (Covid 19 prevention,containment and treatment) (National Lockdown). He is said to have posted video on social media inciting people across the country to participate in illegal demonstrations on 31 July 2020.

The state, led by Mr Lancelotte Mutsokoti, opposed bail arguing that Kunaka was likely to abscond as he defaulted another pending case on 7 August 2020, in which he is facing charges of subverting a constitutionally-elected Government. He further submitted that since then Kunaka never bothered to attend court for default inquiry. Harare Magistrate Mrs Judith Taruvinga denied Kunaka bail saying he demonstrated the propensity to abscond.

Further Reading

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Jim Kunaka Speaks On Chipangano, The Financial Gazette, Published: September 6, 2012, Retrieved: December 17, 2014
  2. [1], "Zanu PF thug Jim Kunaka beats up wife", Nehanda Radio, Published: 7 April 2013, Retrieved: 1 August 2019
  3. 3.0 3.1 Zanu PF man Jim Kunaka loots $4k from Harare, daily, Zimbabwe Situation, Published: March 9, 2014, Retrieved: December 17, 2014
  4. , Richard Chidza, Kunaka’s defection to Zanu PF quakes MDC-T, NewsDay, published: June 13, 2016, retrieved: June 13, 2016
  5. Everson Mushava, Tatenda Gutu ‘Chipangano’ leader bashed, NewsDay, Published: November 13, 2014, Retrieved: December 17, 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Kunaka abducted, assaulted, The Herald, Published: November 13, 2014, Retrieved: December 17, 2014
  7. [2], " Ex-Chipangano leader Jim Kunaka apologises", Newsday, Published: 16 October 2015, Retrieved: 18 August 2019
  8. [3], " Interview: Chipangano terror commander ", The Zimbabwean, Published: 12 June 2016, Retrieved: 1 August 2019
  9. Blessed Mhlanga, Ex-Zanu PF terror leader spills the beans, NewsDay, Published:22 Nov 2018, Retrieved:23 Nov 2018
  10. [4], "Zanu PF rattled by renegades’ testimony", Daily News, Published: 23 November 2018, Retrieved: 1 August 2019
  11. Churches Blast Jim Kunaka Over Motlanthe Commission Testimony ⋆ Pindula News, Pindula News, retrieved: 26 Nov 2018