By Alex Bell
Buhera MP Joseph Chinotimba was last week embraced and welcomed as a guest of honour at the Book Café in Harare, where he reportedly “brought the house down” with his jokes.
Appearing at the Carnival Comedy Night at the venue, ‘Chinoz’ was pictured on stage, microphone in hand, making jokes and laughing with Book Café patrons.
The ZANU PF official has previously been the butt of Zimbabwean jokes, often described as a ‘caricature’ of politics in his quest to win the Buhera parliamentary seat in past elections. But since scoring a shock ‘win’ in the constituency last year, the jokes have seemed less funny.
The former Harare city council security guard rose to infamy during the 2000 land invasions when he and the combative war vets leader, Chenjerai “Hitler” Hunzvi, led the takeovers of white-owned commercial farms. Chinotimba styled himself “commander-in-chief” of the land invaders and openly advocated the use of extreme violence and rape.
He also advocated this level violence in Buhera during the 2008 elections period, and has been accused of being behind the deaths, assaults and rapes of many MDC supporters in the area.
According to eyewitness testimonies, on the 5th May 2008 Chinotimba raped an MDC-T member named Idah Munyukwi twice, after threatening her with a gun. Also under his instruction a group of about 21 ZANU PF thugs gang raped Memory Mufambi, an MDC-T supporter in Ward 18 of Buhera.
Mufambi, whose husband was a prominent MDC activist, was beaten unconscious by a mob of ZANU PF youth militia and war vets who then took her to their torture base where she was raped repeatedly over the course of a week. She suffered serious internal injuries as a result of the rapes, and has been in and out of hospital ever since.
Also in 2008, in Ward 27 area of Chapanduka, Chinotimba led a group of ZANU PF thugs who beat to death an MDC-T activist known as Sibamba. In another incident on the 18th May 2008, Chinotimba’s truck was used in the attack on Choukuse Nyoka Mubango in Ward 26. Mubango was axed to death in full view of his wife and five children.
MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora reacted with anger that Chinotimba was now being ‘embraced’ by society.
“It is hurtful and demeaning to see the tormentor being given this respect and being given a chance to perform as a guest of honour. It is arrogant on the part of government and it is unacceptable,” Mwonzora said.
He added: “The diplomatic community is forgetting that ZANU PF committed these horrendous crimes. We see them gracing these occasions as if everything is fine, and it is outrageous.” SW Radio Africa