SOUTH Africa-based Zimbabwean businessman, Agrippa Masiyakurima believed to be the major financier of the ruling Zanu PF party’s Generation 40 faction, was briefly arrested in Harare over the weekend after he allegedly fired gunshots following an altercation near the country’s military headquarters — KGVI Barracks.
by XOLISANI NCUBE/RICHARD CHIDZA
Masiyakurima runs a civil engineering firm, Bopela Group of Companies, which provides back-up service to a number of telecommunications companies.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba confirmed the incident and said police were investigating the matter.
“The incident occurred on January 10 along Borrowdale Road near Airforce Headquarters. There was a misunderstanding between Agrippa Masiyakurima and municipal police and a gun was discharged into the air. The case has since been referred to CID Homicide for further investigations,” Charamba said.
Informed sources said the shoot-out occurred at a site along Borrowdale Road after Masiyakurima, popularly known as Bopela, was invited to resolve a confrontation between his workers and Harare City Council officials.
The site is a few hundred metres from President Robert Mugabe’s official residence, State House, and adjacent to KGVI Barracks.
The businessman has reportedly won tenders to rehabilitate NetOne’s infrastructure.
“Bopela was having breakfast with his friend (identified only as Choto) at Sam Levy’s Village when he received the distress call from his workers who wanted to erect a mobile phone network booster near KGVI,” the source said.
“The two teamed up to try and resolve the issue, but arrived to see fists flying. Bopela then discharged his gun five times into the air, drawing the attention of soldiers manning the gate to Airforce headquarters.
“The soldiers subdued Bopela and about 16 of his workers as well as the council officials before police from the riot unit arrived. The group was bundled into a police truck, but later released under unclear circumstances,” said an eyewitness, who claimed traffic was blocked for some time during the altercation .
Council spokesperson Michael Chideme seemed unwilling to discuss the matter. “I know nothing about that,” Chideme curtly said.
Asked if companies putting up mobile phone network boosters needed council approval before doing so, Chideme said: “Yes, that they do, but I am not aware of the incident you are referring to. I will try to find out and come back to you.”
Yesterday, Masiyakurima became hostile and refused to give details of the incident, preferring to tell NewsDay to “write whatever you want”.
“But if you don’t have facts, you better be cautious. We will fight each other in court until your paper closes down,” he said.
Masiyakurima added: “Go ahead and write whatever you want. Stop disturbing me. I’m very busy. Look for somewhere to play around with, I am busy, leave me alone.”
Late last year, he was fingered in a plot to push out Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa using G40, amid reports that he had funded the printing of T-shirts inscribed with a picture of a crocodile, associated with Mnangagwa, being lifted by a motorised grader.
The T-shirts, Zanu PF sources claimed, were to be “unleashed” at the party’s annual conference in Victoria Falls, but were intercepted before coming into the country.
The ruling party’s Women’s League, in particular, wanted the conference turned into a mini-congress in order to have First Lady Grace Mugabe elevated into the Presidium.
Mnangagwa is being touted as the frontrunner in the race to succeed President Robert Mugabe, but the G40 is reportedly plotting to scuttle his ascendancy.