Chipangano: An organised criminal network

HARARE - They deal ruthlessly with people whose ideologies differs from theirs and have over the past two decades not taken any prisoners.

Even a renowned terrorist like Adolf Hitler could borrow a trick or two from the shadowy militant group which calls itself Chipangano.

Chipangano, loosely translated meaning an agreement or oath, is believed to have started its operations in 1999 at the height of food riots.

Carrying out its operations in the political hotbed of Mbare, residents know them by their infamous acts of terror.

The group, which is aligned to Zanu PF, has been fingered in a number of crimes like murder, robbery, rape and general assault and intimidation.

Although members of this shadowy outfit are known, none of them have ever been brought to book.

In the past, their attacks were limited to MDC supporters as well as anyone who opposed Zanu PF.

Zanu PF has on several occasions disowned this group.

But because of deep-seated factionalism in Zanu PF, Chipangano now even targets members of its own party as infighting intensifies in the former ruling party.

The terror outfit is said to have launched a campaign to ensure that liberation war veterans do not get the chance to contest in the party’s primary elections.

In a meeting held just before the primary elections last month, Chipangano is said to have also mooted a strategy to earn the party some votes.

Sources within the party with close links to the outfit say Zanu PF youth chairperson Jim Kunaka, who is said to be the leader of the militia group, told members that war veterans should not take part in the forthcoming elections.

“He said anyone who would support the war veterans would sing a blood song,” the source, who preferred anonymity for security reasons, said.

The source, who is a liberation war veteran, said; “Kunaka said that if war veterans failed to make money while they were fighting there is nothing they can get now.”

This comes at a time when the party leader Mugabe is busy calling for peace during the elections.

Kunaka, who is also contesting in the council elections under a Zanu PF ticket, also told members of his group there was now need to deal ruthlessly with those who did not toe the party line.

Kunaka has been building an empire over the past decades although he is just a mere market attendant at Harare City Council.

He currently drives a BMW X5 and owns several properties in Mbare.

The father-of-three also owns a six-hectare farm in Marondera as well as a poultry project with about 2 000 chickens.

The 33-year-old, who now enjoys godfather status in the high density suburb, is believed to net around $60 000 a month through his business operations which include charging street vendors at Mbare Musika $1 a week in order to avoid council arrests.

Chipangano reportedly also collects fees from stall owners at Mupedzanhamo and Siya So flea markets for their protection.

Commuter omnibus operators are also not spared as they have to pay ranking fees to operate from the busy market place.

Kunaka is also said to be in charge of the small tuck-shops surrounding Musika market which he rents out — mainly to Nigerian nationals — for between $200 and $300 per month.

He is alleged to be the man behind the allocation of 400 residential stands at Magaba home industry.

Stand owners pay anything between $120 and $160 per month as rentals. The fact that the area is not serviced and does not have any toilets seems not to bother the new home owners and local authorities.

Reached for comment, Kunaka said he wanted to seek clarity from his party before speaking to the press asking us to call him later.

When contacted again, Kunaka said; “I do not want to talk to you because I do not talk to the Daily News.”
Kunaka also professed ignorance of Chipangano.

“What is Chipangano? Is it an animal? I don’t know anything like that. We do not have such things in our party structures,” he said.

Last year businessperson Alex Mashayamanda, who operates a service station in Mbare, also had a run-in with Chipangano. He and his workers were beaten up by members of the group and a service station project has since stopped because he refused to comply with the militia’s demands for a bribe.

But Chipangano seems untouchable as yet another businessperson operating in Mbare, Sten Zvorwadza also fell victim.

Zvorwadza was beaten up and tortured at Mbare Police Station after he had gone to file a report on Chipangano which was disrupting the installation of his paraffin tanks.

Now residents of Mbare are now living in fear of the group which has since intensified its operations in preparation for the harmonised elections which will be held in two weeks’ time.

 

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