Chaos in city

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Zanu PF youths — allegedly acting at the behest of senior party officials — have gone on a rampage in Bulawayo, invading buildings and threatening tenants.
The youths, driving vehicles with Zanu PF Bulawayo Province inscriptions, have combed buildings owned by foreign nationals and ordered the owners and their tenants to wind up business and hand over the buildings to them.

The drive, NewsDay understands, has been on since April this year. The invasions started following the pronouncement of indigenisation regulations by Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Employment Creation, Saviour Kasukuwere who visited Bulawayo sometime in April.
It is alleged the youths told several business owners the quest to take over the businesses had Kasukuwere blessings.
But in an interview yesterday, Kasukuwere dismissed the youths’ claims as “utter nonsense”.
He said: “I am a busy man who has no time to discuss utter nonsense like what you are asking me about. I am in a meeting at the moment.”
Zanu PF Secretary for Information and Publicity in the Youth League, Sizimisele Dube, also denied that party youths had taken over properties in the city.
“As a party we do not have such a programme. While we know there is an indigenisation programme currently underway it is being co-ordinated at minister Kasukuwere’s office and not at Zanu PF,” Dube said.
Information reaching NewsDay suggests that some senior Zanu PF officials were angling for some of the buildings and were hiding behind the faces of the marauding youths.
Shop owners in some of the affected buildings said the youths, some of them apparently drunk, refused to listen to arguments that were being proffered by the tenants.
“They came driving a double cab truck written ‘Zanu PF Bulawayo Province’. They came and told us to pack our bags and leave immediately as they were now in charge of this building,” said one tenant at a shop near Canberra Building along Fort Street.
“We tried to reason with them but they would not listen. Actually, they became violent and threatened to force people out of the building,” the tenant further explained.
Canberra Building is owned by a Mr Laloo – a businessman of Indian origin who is now based in Zvishavane.
NewsDay was made to understand that Mr Loo had leased his property to Nhimbe Trust- a local, youth-driven organisation.
The agreement allows the Trust to renovate the building and create adequate space for its programmes. Trust director, Joshua Nyapimbi said yesterday the youths had been pestering his organisation since May 21 this year to release the building to them.
“I have received quite a number of them here,” said Nyapimbi. “They came here first on May 21 and told me they had taken over this place since the owner was a foreigner.
“I explained to them they could not take over as we had entered into a lease agreement with the owner on a rent-to-buy arrangement. They insisted we could not have all the space to ourselves so they would take over part of the building,” said Nyapimbi.
He said the youths eventually moved into one part of the building where they turned office space into homes.
“They have since moved in with their personal belongings and the place is now a residential flat instead of being office space,” said Nyapimbi.
“Efforts to call the police to act on the invasion by the Zanu PF youths yielded nothing as the officers who received the report appeared reluctant to act on the matter,” Nyapimbi said.
The youths are also said to have tried to take over Pizzaghetti premises, owned by the Di Palma family.
However, the move backfired after it was realized the Di Palma family had established strong ties with some senior political figures in Matabeleland.
A source close to the Di Palma family said yesterday the youths were forced to leave the property by “their handlers”.
“When they had begun celebrating their property takeover, they were ordered by a senior politician in Zanu PF to leave,” the source said. “So, within minutes of occupation, the youths had all moved out of the place. The owners had to replace the keys that the youths had broken to gain entry,” the source said.
An employee at one of the Di Palma’s enterprises, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Zanu PF and the Di Palma family had reached an agreement over the property.
Several other buildings are said to be targeted by the youths who boast nothing would happen to them as they were on a “national crusade.”
The youths had also attempted to take over Capri-Pizzeriae Restaurant, our sources said.