- Last Updated on 03 September 2012
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The fact that ZANU PF is used by criminals as a viable brand of extortion is a reality that the party cannot objectively repudiate. In fact, ZANU PF is the most viable brand of extortion, coercion and blackmail for any criminal activity in which reference to superior political powers can make you get away with what you want. Usually the powers are not explicitly spelled out, they remain mythical, insisting on wanting to know the powers is an act of defiance and threat is often the tool of first resort.
This fallacious appeal to authority shows how the revolutionary party has been bastardised by 'wannabe' supporters that are in the game for the 'mullah'-unfortunately they seem to constitute the majority. Hence the argument ceases to be about ZANU PF being used by criminals, but rather being a group of extortionists feasting on the sweat and blood of the gallant sons of the liberation struggle for expediency. Impunity against corruption, extortion and other criminal activities is the political glue that is keeping the party intact. The following case studies are not exhaustive, but seek to expose ZANU PF extortion as systemic and endemic. The revolutionary party is therefore challenged to rebuff any of these allegations by formulating counterarguments to the stand point that the party has become one of the most viable brands of extortion between the Zambezi and the Limpopo if not south of the Sahara!
White commercial farmers were the worst victims of the brand of extortion towards and during the land grab and the subsequent fast track land reform program. Extortionists and seasoned crooks descended on white commercial farmers, offering them immunity from the exercise if they part with either cash or property, or both. To substantiate the claims, the crooks fallaciously made reference to senior ZANU PF officials, some of whom were in charge of issuing offer letters and some commandeering groups of marauding militia groups and war veterans. The white farmers, at times, were duped into transferring the deeds of their properties to these crooks under the guise of evading scrutiny, with the understanding that they would continue with their farming activities despite the name change. God knows what happened to the pacts, most of the victims of these conmen were murdered in cold blood to conceal the evidence. The cases are numerous but to give context; Themba Mliswa's case will be used as an example. At some point in 2010, Themba Mliswa a ZANU PF money activist faced over seventy cases of fraud, extortion and murder. All these crimes came into public domain after commercial farmers who had been silently coned, realised that Mliswa was not as invincible as he claimed, following his arrest on charges of swindling white commercial farmers of cattle and equipment worth US$24 Million dollars. Mliswa started his active ZANU PF thuggery career after he was denied entry into the UK over a Visa fraud syndicate which he was running from his London base. Most of the fraudulent activities by ZANU PF supporters during the land reform program later found their way to the courts and the nation was shocked at the extents to which some crooks go to get the 'mullah', all in the name of ZANU PF, the most powerful brand of extortion.
COMMUTER OMINIBUS RANKS
The revolutionary party through its mouthpieces, The Herald and The Sunday Mail pretend that touting is a contemporary phenomenon confined to Harare. The truth of the matter is that the problem dates back to the era of Emergency Taxis. There is a group of mafia style ZANU PF operatives called "Mandimbandimba" who collect protection fees per trip from commuter omnibus operators plying particular routes. The President of the Urban Commuters Association, Mr Simbarashe Ngarande estimates that commuter omnibus operators loose up to US$20 000 per day to the Mandimbandimbas. The Mandimbandimbas pocket up to US$1000 per day for doing absolutely nothing-except claiming to be working for top ZANU PF officials and threatening unspecified action to those who dare defy. The Mandimbandimbas include Jim Kunaka, the Youth Chairperson for Harare Province and one Murehwa who makes a living from the fourth street bus terminus. The Mandimbandimbas drive top of the range vehicles and live lavish lifestyles. To show the might of the ZANUPF brand in the realm of extortion, even the unruliest of society's elements-the commuter omnibus crews-succumb to this extortionist intimidation and part with their hard earned money. Commuter omnibus conductors are known for refusing with commuters' change.
So much has been said about Chipangano, which will be used an example of extortion around the local political economies of many communities, but the problem goes beyond Chipangano, beyond Mbare and beyond Harare. ZANU PF intends to control all aspects of society. As a result, those who realise they can make a living from pretending to aid ZANU PF control society have militarised the informal industry from where the majority of Zimbabweans are erking a living from. The politics around flea markets, taxi ranks and ordinary vending is shocking but has not received enough public attention because of the vulnerability of the victims. Sophisticated extortion techniques are being used on ordinary citizens who have no solution in sight. However, to borrow from Wael Ghonim in Revolution 2.0, "the power of the people is stronger than the people in power." To give context, the objective of Chipangano's violent activities in Mbare and neighbouring areas is not only to perpetuate the ZANU PF hegemony, but to become a fearless brand of extortion; they seek to become a more powerful brand of extortion than ZANU PF hence they have elevated themselves. The idea is to control Mbare's political economy, thus the wholesale farmers' markets, Siya-So and Magaba home industries, car parks, Mupedzanhamo Flea Market and the bus termini. Daily, vendors at Siya So and the vegetable market in Mbare pay ZANU PF operatives between $5 and $10 in protection fees for using the stalls. Those in the transport industry are charged even more, buses plying the Bulawayo route pay up to $100 per trip. As if parting with their hard earned cash is not enough, whenever President Mugabe goes or returns from abroad, the flea markets and vegetable markets are closed by these ZANU PF operatives and everyone is forcibly bussed to the airport while their perishable produce rot. The situation is the same everywhere. In the rural areas, the party has been forced to distance itself from its supporters who have gone on unsanctioned fundraising missions, extorting villagers of cash, livestock and grain ahead of key events like heroes and Independence Day.
THE EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRY
Kwekwe will never be the same after the advent of gold panning, however what is strikingly clear is that you have to be a supporter of ZANU PF to engage in panning activities and often non supporters of ZANU PF have been swindled of their money and "Chimukute" by ZANU PF supporters who hide behind their so called God Fathers mafia style. When gold was discovered in Sherwood, the people who owned the land were literally displaced as the police, army and ZANU PF gold-diggers invaded the area. Those who were not members of the party had to pay a huge fee to access the area. ZANU PF launched an accreditation exercise for those who wanted to enter Sherwood. They were vetted at the revolutionary party's headquarters in Kwekwe and given cards to access the area. Hordes of people were duped into buying the cards at exorbitant prices but at the end of the day did not get access to the gold rich areas. Similarly in Chiyadzwa, diamond trade was restricted to ZANU PF supporters since they could refer to fallacious authority to avoid scrutiny at roadblocks.
The indigenization program requires that all foreign owned companies surrender 51% of the company's shares to locals. The conmen once again have found ways of using the brand of extortion to hoodwink foreigners of shares in the companies. As in the land reform business men have been coned into paying fraudsters to avoid being scrutinised. Some have grabbed shares in companies under the indigenization program. There are also allegations of some foreigners who were duped into transferring 51% of their company's shares into the hands of local owners to avoid scrutiny. The not so good name of the revolutionary parties has been sullied by greedy elements within the party that are bent on tarnishing the image of the party.
Broadly, that ZANU PF is going in the direction of a fully-fledged mafia due to the reliance on extortion by greedy elements who have abandoned the ideals of the liberation struggle is a fact. What is now clear is that the party knows that these practices are taking place at alarming levels, however what the public is interested to know is whether the party either condones extortion or does not have the capacity to confront the criminals. The above real life case studies sought to exemplify the extent of the rot in the party called ZANU PF. This exercise is a consequence of movements that abandon their cause, as such the party is no longer just a system, it has transmogrified into a religion or more so a cult with ridiculous practices that the leadership maybe unaware of. This article's intended target is not the party itself for it is beyond redemption, but to the ordinary voter as we approach the forthcoming election.