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 August 1, 2018 protests and urged the commission to consider ZANU-PF's alleged history of violence.
Jim Kunaka rose to prominence when he became the Harare Province Youth Chairperson ZANU PF when he was elected to the post in the 2008 election. Apart from being a youth chairman of ZANU PF in the Harare Province, Kunaka was aslo one 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.
Kunaka made claims to the effect that he never joined ZANU PF but was born into it because his father Francis Kunaka whom he claimed was war veteran within the ZANU PF party. It was also said that his political career was influenced by individuals such as Tendai Savanhu, Amos Midzi Kunaka is a former ZANU PF youth chairman for the Harare province, he lost the chairmanship of the province to fellow party member, Godfrey Gomwe
Controversy and Scandals
There have been widespread media reports which have linked Jim Kunaka with group that is known as Chipangano. The group is said to be 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
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. 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
The 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.
Although it was far from clear why Kunaka was abducted and beaten up, there were reports linking the assault on Kunaka to political motivatins 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. 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
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.
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.
Motlanthe an 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,”
Kunaka claimed that Zanu-PF had planned the August 1 (2018) election violence that resulted in the death of 6 people because it had lost needed to created a situation to retain power.
Blast from Churches
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.
Kunaka is married and a father of three as well as a resident of Mbare.
- Jim Kunaka Speaks On Chipangano, The Financial Gazette, Published: September 6, 2012, Retrieved: December 17, 2014
- Zanu PF man Jim Kunaka loots $4k from Harare, daily, Zimbabwe Situation, Published: March 9, 2014, Retrieved: December 17, 2014
- Everson Mushava, Tatenda Gutu ‘Chipangano’ leader bashed, NewsDay, Published: November 13, 2014, Retrieved: December 17, 2014
- Kunaka abducted, assaulted, The Herald, Published: November 13, 2014, Retrieved: December 17, 2014
- , Richard Chidza, Kunaka’s defection to Zanu PF quakes MDC-T, NewsDay, published: June 13, 2016, retrieved: June 13, 2016
- Blessed Mhlanga, Ex-Zanu PF terror leader spills the beans, NewsDay, Published:22 Nov 2018, Retrieved:23 Nov 2018
- Churches Blast Jim Kunaka Over Motlanthe Commission Testimony ⋆ Pindula News, Pindula News, retrieved: 26 Nov 2018