The battle for control of Harare’s lucrative commuter omnibus ranks has allegedly turned nasty amid reports that Zanu PF activists who grabbed the ranks two years ago are now fighting each other.
Two weeks ago, a group of unidentified party activists allegedly kidnapped Wilbert Zhakata, a Zanu PF member and chairman of the Urban Transport Association of Zimbabwe (UTAZ), and severely assaulted him before dumping him at a secluded area in Turnpike along the Harare-Bulawayo Road.
Party members who declined to be named said Zhakata was kidnapped at gunpoint and heavily assaulted on two different occasions between July 5 and 6, and lost three teeth in the process.
The sources said Zhakata was being accused of demanding accountability for the $5 daily rank fee the youths collect from each of the estimated 8 000 commuter omnibuses that ply the city routes.
On average, the youths collect around $1,2 million per month and, according to sources, the money is not remitted to the party coffers but is shared among the association’s leaders.
“On July 7, the same gang stormed his home in Marimba and torched his Toyota Coaster omnibus,” said a Zanu PF youth who preferred to remain anonymous.
“Zhakata reported all the cases to the police resulting in culprits he managed to identify being arrested, but released the same day by officers at Milton Police Station.”
Harare City Council has since admitted losing thousands of potential revenue to the party youths.
NewsDay investigations yesterday revealed that UTAZ was not registered as a private company at the Registry of Companies.
According to documents shown to NewsDay, the matter has sucked in the Attorney-General’s Office with chief law officer Roderick Tokwe tasked to
On July 17, Tokwe wrote to Milton Park Police Station demanding a full investigation into the matter, saying the issue should be taken to court once investigations were completed.
The letter was copied to deputy AG Florence Ziyambi and acting director of public prosecutors
Fanuel Deera Mutasa, the UTAZ provincial chairman whose car was allegedly used to abduct Zhakata, said there was nothing new in collecting money and maintaining order at ranks.
He said MDC-T youths also controlled some ranks.
Besides taking over bus ranks, Zanu PF youths have also grabbed most market stalls in high-density suburbs including Mbare Musika.
Zanu PF national spokesperson Rugare Gumbo declined to comment, and referred questions to the party’s provincial chairperson Amos Midzi.
“I cannot comment on that issue. It is the Harare province that has that issue,” he said.
“ As far as I am concerned, there is no directive from the party to collect money. You can call Midzi, he can comment on that.”
Midzi could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Zanu PF Harare province youth chairman Jimu Kunaka also denied any links to UTAZ.