Top 6 terror group reactivates

HARARE - In the northern part of central Zimbabwe lies a town pregnant with history.

A gateway to Harare and Chirundu and a provincial capital of Mashonaland West Province, Chinhoyi is an idyllic town not only significant in the country’s history because this is where the first Chimurenga was waged by the famous seven heroes, but also boasts tourist attractions like the sacred Chinhoyi Caves.

Established in 1901 as a group settlement scheme by Lieutant Margherito Guidoth who settled with 10 other Italian families, the city is home to 56 794 people.

Ten years ago, the road to Chinhoyi used to be a long stretch of lush green fields of tobacco, maize and cotton. Not anymore.

In the past the province, which is also home to octogenarian President Robert Mugabe, was a no-go area for other political players, but Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC has since made inroads in the area.

This unprecedented move jolted Zanu PF into action.

A six-member outfit referred to as the “top six” which is linked to the former ruling party has literally taken over the city.

The shady group, believed to be sponsored by a flamboyant Zanu PF businessman (name supplied), has re-launched a campaign of terror.

Their objective is to weed out “bad apples” and harvest more supporters for Zanu PF.

The original members of the group included Josphat and Domini who are brothers; Stewart, Sande, Robert and Jimmy.

But new members including Mike, Prosper and Admire have since been drafted into the group.

The group of thugs, which is feared by the majority of Chinhoyi residents, go about attacking residents in public places like bars and supermarkets. Even vendors are not spared the wrath of top six.

“One day when I was selling my airtime, two of these guys just came and demanded that I give them $5 worth of airtime each.

“This affected my business because I only make eight cents per sale,” a disgruntled vendor who preferred anonymity, said.

Terrorised residents who sometimes have to contend with paying for groceries for the top six, shied away from questions from the Daily News.

John, who works at a car wash located in the city centre, said: “Can you imagine one day I was having a drink with friends at Chinhoyi Hotel and two of them walked in and demanded that I buy drinks for them. I had no choice but to oblige,” he said.

The Daily News was informed that several high-ranking Zanu PF officials supported the activities of the shady outfit to protect their business and political interests.

The group of thugs used to wear suits when a Harare businessman with political and business interests in the province was still bankrolling them.

Now the businessman, who is said to have hit hard times, has grown weary of supporting the group, especially after failing to help him secure a top political position in the province.

The top six have now been reduced to wearing Zanu PF T-shirts donated to them.

It also emerged that members of the group, were standing in as middlemen in the allocation of stands in Chinhoyi.
Residents say the police have not done much to protect residents from the top six.

MDC provincial administrator Brendon Gutu told the Daily News that his party supporters were not only victims of the six but targeted by security forces as well.

“Central Intelligence Officers (CIO) agents and former soldiers are being used especially in the Zvimba West area.

“The areas are no-go areas but we have some structures there but still it is difficult for residents to openly identify with us especially with the warumwa warumwa campaign,” Gutu said.

The warumwa warumwa campaign spearheaded by the six and security agents is being rolled out in  seven districts which include Mhangura, Makonde, Zvimba West, Zvimba East, Zvimba North, Chegutu East and Hurungwe.

MDC rallies are also being targeted. In August, Finance minister Tendai Biti was prevented from addressing a rally in Darwendale and was forced to address supporters in a nearby bush.

“When we notify the police of our intention to hold rallies, they notify the CIO who then organise a counter programme.

“One of our drivers was threatened and has been in hiding since the rally. We made a report but no arrests have been made,” Gutu said.

However, Jomic, tasked with the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), says they are investigating violence in Mash West Province.

Gutu said the Zanu PF thugs had also taken over the government’s grain scheme where they have blocked MDC supporters.

“MDC supporters have not been benefitting from the scheme because Zanu PF chairperson John Mafa is the regional director for GMB. He makes sure that grain goes to his people only,” he said.

But Mafa says that the claims by MDC are farfetched as he is no longer employed by GMB.

“Zanu PF does not have any top six, it has party structures. I am aware that there are certain people who perpetrate acts of violence and claim to be Zanu PF.”

“The truth is we do not have such people in the party. Some just pretend to be Zanu PF just to give themselves credibility.” - Thelma Chikwanha, Features Editor

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