Chipangano — the Mbare-based shadowy and militant group of often violent youths that has claimed association to Zanu PF — has reportedly scuttled a $5 million housing project meant for the poor in the populous Mbare high-density suburb.
The project was the brainchild of global business magnate Bill Gates’ benevolence, administered by the Bill Gates charity foundation in partnership with the Harare City Council.
Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda has revealed council was fed up with Chipangano’s disruptive shenanigans and had moved the project to Dzivarasekwa to get out of the way of the hooligans.
Chipangano, said the mayor, was demanding 51% of the housing units to be constructed – as has become the song everywhere foreign money is involved in Zimbabwe.
The Bill Gates project is meant to put up at least 80 housing units (80 blocks of flats) and a decision had been made to get the crowded Mbare to benefit.
The project, to be undertaken under an agreement between the local authority and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has since been moved to Dzivarasekwa, prejudicing Mbare residents of a rare opportunity to get homes of their own.
“We have decided to move the project from Mbare to Dzivarasekwa because of what has been happening. It doesn’t mean we have abandoned the project, but we will see when the situation permits,” Masunda said while addressing a special council meeting on Thursday.
Besides the 51% demand of housing units, Zanu PF youths were also understood to have been demanding to provide labour for the project. Chipangano has been accused of unleashing terror in Harare, including taking over flea markets and commuter omnibus ranks where they illegally charge “service fees” to operators.
Masunda said the Bill and Melinda Gates team led by Melanie Walker would be coming to Zimbabwe tomorrow and were scheduled to meet the Minister of Housing and Social Amenities, Giles Mutsekwa, and Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo with arrangements being made for them to meet with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, however, distanced his party from Chipangano’s alleged demands and criticised the subsequent withdrawal of the project from Mbare. “I don’t think it’s fair to withdraw developmental projects meant to benefit Zimbabweans. If he (Masunda) thought he had a case, why didn’t he approach the leadership of the party to deal with it?
“It is just an excuse by the MDC-T. He has not even consulted the Minister of Local Government about it. However, we will build houses ourselves as a party for the people,” he said.