Youths fight over parking spoils

The youth empowerment group Upfumi Kuvadiki is embroiled in a turf war over car parking in the capital city. Recent infighting has seen senior officials from President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) party being sacked.

Observers say the group, aligned to Zanu (PF), is being used by political heavyweights as pawns in the grabbing of shares spawned by the Empowerment Regulations, which seek to strip investors in industry and mining of 51 percent of their equity.

Analysts told The Zimbabwean that only a few well-connected individuals would benefit from the policy, while the influential youth wing of Zanu (PF) is being used as a front. Upfumi Kuvadiki (wealth to the young people) played a pivotal role in the cancellation by the Harare City Council of a parking deal earlier awarded to South African parking firm, Easipark.

Insiders say the current infighting for position has been occasioned by an expected windfall from diamond claims awarded to the group, and deals expected to be struck as Zanu (PF) intensifies its efforts to secure shareholding in foreign-owned firms under the guise of indigenization and youth empowerment.

The power struggles within the organisation have culminated in the axing of chairman, Alson Darikai, and the elevation of secretary general Tatenda Maroodza who is believed to be related to Minister of Youth Empowerment Saviour Kasukuwere.

“We would like to inform you that Alson Darikai is no longer a member of Upfumi Kuvadiki Association. The association has resolved to expel him immediately and he no longer conducts any activities on its behalf,” says a letter from Maroodza.

But Dakarai enjoys the patronage of another Zanu (PF) heavyweight, Ignatious Chombo, the Minister of Local Government.

In an interview Dakarai claimed the reason behind the latest moves to oust him were because the Easipark deal was about to be sealed. Upfume Kuvadiki had formed its own company, Mbuya Nehanda, to takeover the parking arrangements in Harare.

“We are scheduled to meet the Mayor next week to finalise the deal and talk about other opportunities. The secretary general has a company which he wants endorsed to take over Easyhold but I said no to that. It is also alleged that I have become too powerful,” said Dakarai.

The group last year threatened the Council with violent takeover of its parking business, forcing Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda to reverse a city parking partnership deal with SA firm, Easihold. Harare and Easihold formed Easy Park last year to run the city’s parking business for a 60-40 share of the profits.

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