The sudden arrival of over 2 000 Zanu PF elements with a liberation war background at Koala Farm, along the Harare-Chitungwiza Road, raises a lot of questions and more than mere eyebrows.
Landscape with Tangai Chipangura
All of a sudden, just days before the crucial national elections, more than 2 000 people with confessed links to Zanu PF converge in the hotly-contested Harare South constituency.
They are allowed to stay there for over two months, camped in the bushes around the farm where they live without any form of accommodation or sanitary facilities.
Reports say this huge number of people allegedly came to Koala Farm to demand compensation from Zanu PF for their contribution to the war of liberation.
Zanu PF top campaign strategist, war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda, acknowledges their presence in Harare South and says their demands are “genuine”. He says their grievances would be addressed after the elections — implying the 2 000 people will be around in that constituency until after elections.
Sibanda said: “They are people who were in the struggle, but did not receive military training that qualifies them in terms of the War Veterans Act to be regarded as war veterans.
“Some of them were teachers and nurses, for instance, but they were part of the war. They have genuine grievances and I spoke to some of their leaders and some of these comrades have started going back to help the party campaign and win the elections. Their issues will be attended to after the elections when the party (Zanu PF) has won the elections.”
As confirmed by Sibanda, all these people crossed the country’s borders to go to war although they allegedly did not get to receive military training or take up arms to come to the frontline. Many of them speak in dialects relatively alien to this part of the country such as Venda, Kalanga, Ndau and Ndebele although a good number too speak the local languages.
Investigations established that they come from all four corners of Zimbabwe and travelled to Harare in organised groups, allegedly to claim war compensation. They hail from such places as Beitbridge, Lupane, Plumtree, Insiza, Gokwe, Chiredzi, Chipinge and various areas of Mashonaland provinces.
Their representatives said they have been visiting the Zanu PF headquarters in the capital for communication and feedback — “about compensation”. Reports say the group has become a menace to the local community from whom they demand food and transport to take them on their errands to the Zanu PF HQ.
Apparently, these people could have registered as voters in Harare South constituency and may very well vote on July 31.
Voter registration did not inhibit anybody from registering to vote from wherever they so wished. All that was required was an affidavit stating where they live — without proof — and the affidavits were readily available at every registration centre.
It needs no rocket scientist to know which party these 2 000-plus people will vote for or how their vote will affect the electoral demography in Harare South.
What, however, breeds dreadful curiosity to this development is the reaction, or lack of it, from authorities to this sudden movement of people, in such huge numbers and in the manner they did. Over 2 000 adults with a war background and belonging to a political party, moving to settle in a bush, on a farm located between two big cities including the capital — just before crucial elections!
If these were ordinary citizens making civil demands, there is no doubt they would not have lasted a night at that farm. If, for interest’s sake, the people (with a war background) had even the remotest links to any other political party, they very well could have been immediately rounded up and thrown into jail, charged with treason!
Clearly, the location that these people have chosen to camp makes their intention, innocent as they may claim to be, very suspiciously sinister and worrying. They are staying in a bushy area, barely 800 metres from one of Zimbabwe’s most sensitive military establishments, the headquarters of the Zimbabwe Intelligence Corps! Manyame Airbase is also very close by.
What is more — the determination of these people and the timeliness of their move; to leave their families for over two months and go to live and sleep in the bush in this cold and without food! And this, at a time just before elections, a period when no political party, let alone Zanu PF, would tolerate any attempts to smear its name by portraying it as a party that uses and abandons its own.
More questionably, this group of people claims they want to be addressed by no lesser authority than President Robert Mugabe; who is grappling with a killing campaign schedule — a very unlikely possibility. They also hope to receive monetary compensation from a bankrupt party and a broke government — a feat several more deserving and better organised groups have failed to achieve. If anything, those that have tried this before have received punishment and not recognition – or compensation.
But this nondescript group receives instant recognition and their demands acknowledgement by Zanu PF’s key election campaign strategist, war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda.
Very interesting indeed — and not so comforting.