By Calisto Mudzingwa
Chipangano—the notorious shadowy militant ZANU PF group from Mbare, has been in the news for the wrong reasons: murder, violence, robbery, intimidation, coercion, looting and disrupting business among others. The acts of Chipangano can best be described by one word: Terrorism.
The Online Dictionary defines terrorism as the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes. In 1992, the United Nations defined terrorism as an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons. The two definitions share the aspect of violence and that the violence is used for political purposes.
In 1999, the OAU (now AU) Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism defined terrorism in Article 1 Paragraph 3(a)i.
Terrorist act” means: (a) any act which is a violation of the criminal laws of a State Party and which may endanger the life, physical integrity or freedom of, or cause serious injury or death to, any person, any number or group of persons or causes or may cause damage to public or private property, natural resources, environmental or cultural heritage and is calculated or intended to:
(i) intimidate, put in fear, force, coerce or induce any government, body, institution, the general public or any segment thereof, to do or abstain from doing any act, or to adopt or abandon a particular standpoint, or to act according to certain principles.
According to the UN definition, terrorism is in contravention of the laws of any country where such activities are carried out. In short, terrorism is a criminal activity. Furthermore, terrorism is intended to ‘to force or coerce the general public to abandon a particular standpoint’. Considering the definitions above, the modus operandi and goals of Chipangano—it is indisputable that Chipangano is a terrorist organization.
Chipangano employs, murder, violence and untold brutality to intimidate, put fear in and coerce MDC-T supporters to cease supporting MDC-T forthwith. As illustration, Ndou Paul, reporting for Bulawayo 24NEWS on February 12, 2012, reports that Shepherd Banadau , an MDC-T branch treasurer in Mbare, Harare was on Friday murdered by known Zanu PF youths operating under the notorious Chipangano wing.
It’s been well documented that terrorist acts influence an audience beyond the immediate victim. Chipangano terrorist acts are planned to be a ‘deterrent’ to MDC-T activists, MDC-T supporters and would-be MDC-T supporters. A case in point is that the brutal murder of Shepherd Bandau is a direct intimidation and an act of coercion to any MDC-T activists, particularly in Mbare.
It’s an unambiguous statement to MDC-T supporters and activists: stop supporting MDC-T immediately or else you would suffer the same fate as Shepherd Bandau. This is a chilling message which instills fear into the hearts of MDC-T activists and supporters. Chipangano’s terrorist acts are intended to decimate MDC-T political structures in Mbare, with the goal of guaranteeing a ZANU PF victory in impending elections.
Besides murdering activists in Mbare, Chipangano has expanded its illegal activities as well as its area of operation. On 11 March 2012, the Daily News reports that “ Chipangano Crushes MDC Rally”. The report states that, “ Armed police watched helplessly as five people were injured in Sunningdale yesterday during a violent attack by Chipangango terror group which crushed an MDC rally that had been cleared by them.
At least five people ended up with broken ribs, fractured arms, concussions and other soft-tissue injuries as a result of blows from chairs and other sticks by the Chipangano militia — a youth brigade of President Mugabe’s Zanu PF. This is not the first time that Chipanango has disrupted MDC-T rallies with the connivance of the ZRP; regrettably, it is not going to be the last. Chipangano is determined to ensure that no MDC-T rally ever takes place in Harare.
Its activities are illegal; they are in contravention of Article 21 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which enshrines the ‘protection of freedom and assembly’. Article 21 Paragraph 1of the Constitution of Zimbabwe articulates that: Except with his own consent or by way of parental discipline, no person shall be hindered in his freedom of assembly and association, that is to say, his right to assemble freely and associate with other persons and in particular to form or belong to political parties or trade unions or other associations for the protection of his interests.
Chipangano’s terrorist acts do not affect the residents of Mbare and other parts of Harare only, but the whole of Zimbabwe. Tichaona Sibanda SW radio, 27 Februaray 2012 reports that ‘Chipangano stops delivery of fresh produce into Mbare’. He writes: The violent and untouchable Chipangano group has banned all delivery of fresh produce from areas known to be supportive of the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
The MDC-T MP for Mbare Piniel Denga told SW Radio Africa that “the group nearly set alight a truck that was carrying tomatoes to the farmers’ market on Monday. The truck was from an area in Mashonaland East that is perceived to support the MDC. ….For months now the group has terrorized people perceived to not support ZANU PF. The group has almost taken over the suburb making it a no-go zone for those thought to be anti-ZANU PF. I’ve personally been assaulted by some of the members but the police ended up arresting me and not the perpetrators,” Denga added.
Like any other terrorist act, the strategy of Chipangano is to commit acts of violence that draws the attention of the populace, particularly MDC-T supporters. Furthermore, the intended results of Chipangano’s terrorism are to cause psychological effect (terror), among MDC-T supporters—wherever they may be. Chipangano is applying violence directly to the political contest—a hallmark of terrorism.
Everything about Chipangano is criminal. Selective application of the law by the partisan Zimbabwe Republic Police does not make in any way Chipangano’s illegal activities legal. In their delusional minds, Chipangano may see themselves as heroes, yet the truth of the matter is that they are terrorists: They are a bunch of home-grown terrorists. Chipangano and their masters should know that victimizing the innocent is criminal injustice under a dictatorship or a democracy. Chipangano and their handlers are committing crimes against humanity, and some day—they will pay dearly for their actions.