SW Radio Africa (London)

Zimbabwe: Chipangano Leader's MP Plans Anger Harare Residents

Plans by the leader of the notorious Chipangano youth gang to run for a parliamentary seat in Harare have left residents shocked and angry, because of the violence, intimidation and chaos he has led.

Jim Kunaka, the ZANU PF youth chairmen for the capital, has stated his intentions to run for the Kuwadzana parliamentary seat, currently held by the MDC-T's Nelson Chamisa. Kunaka has reportedly also helped in elbowing out the MP for Mbare, to make way for a ZANU PF candidate.

Kunaka was also recently fired from Harare City Council after beating up a colleague in Mbare. Kunaka is said to have beaten up Gift Jembe, a municipal police officer. But his actions have gone unpunished for years, and he is widely considered untouchable.

His parliamentary ambitions have now shocked residents, because of his involvement in Chipangano. The gang has ruled Mbare for some time, using serious violence and intimidation to crack down on perceived MDC supporters and to take over businesses.

Recently, Kunaka was said to have led the 'mandimbandimba' gang that was running an illegal patrol of bus ranks in the city. The gang was forcing omnibus drivers to pay a daily 'protection' fee, and was raking in thousands of dollars a week.

Police were eventually were called in to arrest these illegal touts, but Kunaka was not included.

SW Radio Africa correspondent Simon Muchemwa said the bus rank scam is just one of many criminal acts Kunaka and his followers are known for.

"He runs illegal businesses throughout Harare and his followers are ruthless and violent. He is not a man that people would want in a parliamentary seat," Muchemwa said.

Harare Residents' Trust Director, Precious Shumba, told SW Radio Africa that Kunaka "is unsuitable for public office."

"He has used his position and his office to abuse people who are opposed. We are scared he will bring more violence to the communities and to parliament. He has been like a terror chief who has had the protection of the police," Shumba said.

He added: "He has released his violent thugs on us for years. People are bitter and hurt that he has not been prosecuted for anything. In the case that he should win, which is unlikely, it would spell disaster."

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