Reports that Chipangano, a militia group with Zanu PF links, has scuttled a $5 million housing project meant for the poor in Mbare is yet another sad reminder that we have become a lawless society.
According to Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda, Chipangano, probably inspired by Zanu PF’s indigenisation programme, is demanding that 51% of the housing units to be constructed with funds from a donation by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation be given to its members.
The project that would also have seen council rehabilitating Mbare’s dilapidated Matapi Flats has since been taken to Dzivarasekwa because council could not risk losing the donor funds at a time when it is battling a serious housing backlog.
Harare City Council was fortunate enough to be considered by the foundation, which is also sponsoring similar projects in Malawi and Angola. Submitting to Chipangano’s demands would have been irresponsible.
Besides the obvious prejudice to the people of Mbare, the latest move by Chipangano raises questions about the selective application of the rule of law by State institutions.
Chipangano have become a law unto themselves in Mbare and of late, they have been exporting their lawlessness to other parts of the city including the dormitory town of Chitungwiza.
They are the same group who were implicated in the invasion of Parliament in July where they assaulted legislators and journalists in front of hapless police officers.
The rowdy youths early this year rampaged through Town House in full view of police officers, beating up council employees, and despite their pictures being splashed on national newspapers, nothing was done to them.
Despite claiming to renounce violence, Zanu PF has found it difficult to distance itself from this shadowy group whose modus operandi bears a striking resemblance to militia groups that have been seen promoting conflict in other failed African states.
The time has come for the Zimbabwe Republic Police to act on Chipangano if it still wants to be taken seriously.
It is our strong belief that if Chipangano had the slightest connection to any of the Movement for Democratic Change factions, its members would have been thrown behind bars well before their audacious invasion of Parliament.
Zanu PF politicians who have been fingered as the brains behind, and funders of Chipangano also need to do serious introspection and think about the legacy they want to create by nurturing such thugs.