A senior official within ZANU PF has called for the party's Harare province to rein in the Chipangano gang that has terrorised the capital, admitting the youths aligned to their party are now jeopardizing their electoral chances.
The gang is based in the Mbare high-density suburb where they control most commuter bus ranks, flea markets and council-owned flats, depriving the Harare Council of much needed funds. They operate with impunity in exchange for carrying out the party's dirty work in Harare, which includes forcing people to attend rallies and intimidating MDC supporters.
According to Mbare MP Piniel Denga, ZANU PF's national Secretary for Administration, Didymus Mutasa, appeared on state run television on Tuesday night addressing the party structures in Harare over recent district elections that were marred with violence and chaotic infighting.
Denga told SW Radio Africa that Mutasa warned the Harare province chairman Amos Midzi to make sure that all the violence in Harare is stopped and the unruly youths are brought under control. Mutasa is also said to have admitted that the violent gang is now losing votes for the party.
"They have realised that violence does not pay and it will always damage the image of the party. They also admitted their youth are doing things to residents that are wrong and we hope to see meaningful changes," Denga said.
He explained that Mutasa's comments on a television news channel run by ZANU PF came as a surprise, because Chipangano had been used by party officials to mobilize residents in Harare to attend important events. Mbare is currently a no-go area for supporters of the MDC formations due to the gang's efforts.
Chipangano has been operating in Mbare for nearly ten years without any interference from the police, many of whom are alleged to be fearful of the violent youths.
Mutasa's call for control of the gang came just days after it was reported that the youths who control Harare's lucrative minibus ranks were now fighting each other over profits.