Chipangano: a business outfit hiding behind Zanu (PF)

The primary goal of the youth group making life hell for high density urban dwellers is to control the levers of financial power, especially the retail and wholesale farmers’ markets, Siya-So and Magaba home industries, car parks, Mupedzanhamo Flea Market and the bus termini.

Chipangano was originally established to mobilise support for Zanu (PF) candidates in Mbare.
Chipangano was originally established to mobilise support for Zanu (PF) candidates in Mbare.

So much has been written about the Chipangano (Agreement) shadowy group, notorious for its crude reaction to opposition to Zanu (PF). However, there has been a clear distinction in the manner the private and the state-controlled media has covered similar events where this outfit is involved. While there have been attempts to make the Chipangano grouping a formal Zanu (PF) outfit, the leadership has always disowned them, claiming they belonged to the MDC.

That is untrue and those in Zanu (PF) know it. The group is made up of young women and men, mostly drawn from Mbare’s different hostels and Jourburg Lines. They exist to protect the business interests of various leaders within Zanu (PF), who also use them to intimidate and silence critics and opponents.

Mbare residents live in fear. They are constantly harassed, threatened with beatings, and forced to attend meetings with unclear agendas. Mostly, there is no notice of the meetings but rowdy young men and women move into your neighbourhood and coerce everyone to attend.

POSA states that anyone who convenes a meeting without notifying the police shall be arrested. That is not the practice the nation has witnessed in relation to Chipangano. This

outfit has been exempt from these legal requirements and the police have a lot to explain on this.

Key objectives

As the name implies, Chipangano means ‘agreement’ and implies an ‘oath’ among those involved.

The media has been trying hard to link this outfit to Zanu (PF). My discussions with various Mbare residents indicate that at its foundation, Chipangano was established with the following key objectives;

• To mobilise support for Zanu (PF) candidates in Mbare,

• To control all council properties and make money,

• To prevent the penetration of the area by the MDC and any other groups not linked to Zanu (PF).

While these objectives are not in writing, the actions and language of the lead actors speak of their desire to accumulate wealth at all costs, ostensibly hiding behind powerful Zanu (PF) faction leaders or warlords in Mbare. The primary goal is to control the levers of financial power, especially the retail and wholesale farmers’ markets, Siya-So and Magaba home industries, car parks, Mupedzanhamo Flea Market, the bus termini.

Who are they?

At the retail and wholesale markets they are called makoronyera, at Mupedzanhamo they are ‘wezvingoro/majega’ and they are the lead gate marshals. There is also a team of security guys, those who monitor the movements and language of people.

How does this work? From interviews with knowing people, there is leadership at all these places. The touts who harass people at bus termini, the people with the pushcarts, the vendors you see selling their wares, the stall holders in flea markets and the retail and wholesale markets are all under a known structure, with strict reporting systems.

For any person to be allowed to operate a stall or table, or even push carts, and even to they must produce a Zanu (PF) membership card. Usually there is a fee to be paid to security teams. Currently they are gathering voting information. Where one is not registered they are facilitating the registration through writing of confirmation letters of residential addresses. People are forced to comply or lose their market stalls.

To operate a market stall or table, one has to pay a monthly figure, determined by Chipangano. Only 10 percent goes to the City of Harare, paid at Remembrance District Office while the rest is taken by individual warlords/landlords who operate more than one table and stall. What this means is that from the council infrastructure, local bullies have taken over and are making more money than the council.

The rules

They make the rules. You object you are ejected. If you complain you are victimised as an opposition activist.

From its early days, this outfit was structured in such a way that different districts, wards and branches had their own sources of money, such as council buildings, car parks, markets and ranks. Loyalties within Mbare are along these lines. The leader makes decisions on who gets what and how. Complex lines are maintained and respected as in a cult movement.

But there are key areas of convergence among these players. When Zanu (PF) leaders have any meeting or function they are all expected to rally behind the party and ensure that everyone attends without fail – or they lose their positions/markets/stalls.

This explains why it seems that thousands rally behind Zanu (PF) during any public show of support activities – but this does not translate into votes. Zanu (PF) has lost all elections contested in Harare, except for Harare South, since 2000.

When they are not in their groups, members of Chipangano talk of how much money they are making and claim they will do everything in their power to protect their right to make money.

Arrest them

Why do the police not arrest them? In my investigations, I stumbled upon disturbing information. The operations of Chipangano are indirectly linked to individual policemen at Matapi Police Station, Stodart Police Station and at the police bases spread across Mbare.

What apparently happens is that respective group members give certain police officers money as bribes to stay out of their way.

So, when a member of the public reports harassment by these people, the police will not do much. We have seen some of the violent youths being arrested but being let off the hook.

My belief is that some powerful people have assured the youths that they will not be arrested even if they commit crime.

To deal decisively with Chipangano in our society, the police have to arrest them and send a clear message that this outfit has no business interfering in people’s lives. Let the arrested hooligans flood the courts and face the music.

Vice President John Nkomo and party spokesman Rugare Gumbo have distanced Zanu (PF) from this notorious outfit, but more has to be done. As long as Chipangano exists, Zanu (PF) does not stand a remote chance of winning against any other party in Mbare and elsewhere in Harare. Let the police do their work and end this madness.

Of course, the underlying cause is directly linked to unemployment. These young people have had their dreams shattered by economic hardships brought by a corrupt and irresponsible leadership. Ultimately the existence of Chipangano is an economic initiative that should be ended through a comprehensive national development strategy.

Chipangano leadership exposed

According to people in the know, Chipangano was set up by the late Ali Khani Manjengwa in 2001, who was aspiring to be a councillor in the March 2002 Harare Municipal Elections.

Other senior people who have direct links to this outfit include Jimmy Kunaka, Onismo Gore, who now heads another offshoot of the Chipangano group called the Zimbabwe Home Industries and Marketers Association. Kunaka and Gore are losing municipal and parliamentary Zanu (PF) candidates since 2002, after repeatedly being trounced by MDC candidates.

The other actors are Gobvu, Namion Modern Chirwa, the Chairperson of the Joshua Nkomo District, Douglas Mutyoramwendo, who operates from Mbare District 3, Nathan Mapuranga, Elizabeth Madzimure among the influential players (commonly known as Mai Bwanya) of the Women’s Affairs in the party’s District 2 Coordinating 5 Committee (DCC) 6 and also a Zanu (PF) provincial member, whose husband Cornelius Mandizvidza Bwanya is a Central Committee member.

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