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The power behind MaShurugwi

By Clinton Siniwa

“Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some are given a chance to climb, but they refuse. They cling to the realm or the gods or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.”

Clinton Siniwa
Clinton Siniwa

These were the words of Lord Baelish to Lord Varys in George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones saga. This was a conversation between political elites in the land of Westeros.

In the Zimbabwean political context the phrase “Chaos is a ladder” is oft used by pro-regime writers berating opposition parties, the MDC in particular. They accuse them of inciting violent demonstrations against the government. As fate would have it, the truth about the actual perpetrators of violence during political demonstrations was revealed by Jim Kunaka.

Kunaka was once provincial youth leader for ZANU PF and leader of a terror group known as Chipangano. The militia outfit had a two pronged purpose.

To persecute their sworn foes in the MDC and to fight party factional wars on behalf of G40. As a reward for their pains and efforts they were permitted to collect “protection fees” from vendors and commuter omnibus operators in Mbare by their benefactors.

From his testimony at the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry hearings we learnt that during demonstrations ZANU PF youths disguise themselves as members of the MDC.

The objective being to commit acts of violence and destruction of property to implicate the MDC. This strategy has been used by ZANU PF to justify the banning of demonstrations and severe reprisals against the MDC by state security forces.

It is unfortunate for Kunaka and his colleagues that G40 lost to its rival faction. This turn of events explains the recent demise of Kunaka’s personal fortunes. During his tenure as leader of Chipangano he amassed great wealth and political influence. Kunaka fell off the ladder, and unfortunately the fall seems to have broken him. 

In Kwekwe a similar militia terror group exists known by the name “Al Shabaab”. Their modus operandi is similar to that of Chipangano.

Their purpose is also two-fold; to persecute MDC supporters and ZANU PF youths who show disloyalty to the Lacoste faction. The police do not interfere or investigate incidents that are linked to their operations because of the outfit’s links to the State Security minister.

Over the years another militia outfit has emerged from the mining underworld known as MaShurugwi. The machete wielding gangs are not artisanal miners strictly but collect protection fees and royalties from artisanal miners and gold dealers on behalf of the “chefs”.

There are countless harrowing and blood curling accounts of how MaShurugwi have decapitated human heads and limbs of those who have crossed their path.

Not too long ago a certain Mr Vongai Mupereri was recorded addressing artisanal miners gathered outside Gaia mine in Kwekwe before its invasion. In his address, he issues a warning to the artisanal miners.

He tells them that he has an enforcement team awaiting instructions from him. It is obvious that the group that he is alluding to are the notorious Mashurugwi. Mupereri defied a High court order to vacate the same mine.

For the avoidance of doubt the man addressed the crowd wearing a ZANU PF shirt. It clearly bore the face of President Mnangagwa himself. This of course was intentional serving to inform his audience wherein he derives his authority. From the above it is clear that the power behind the MaShurugwi is the President himself.

ZANU PF elites thrive in the disorder and confusion that comes with extrajudicial structures. Such methods allow them to use men hungry for wealth and power for their own consolidation of wealth and power. They prefer disorder as there is no accountability and the tools used are easily expendable. For the elites the confusion creates a perfect environment for looting and abuse of national resources.

The masses attention is conveniently focused on the chaos while grand theft takes place under the radar. The art of redirecting public attention is a skill that ZANU PF knows too well.  This is what the late Robert Mugabe did during the land grab in the early 2000’s. He used militias made up of war veterans to intimidate and in some cases murder commercial white farmers.

The fast track land reform program was disorganised and haphazard by design. This created the perfect opportunity for Mugabe and the elites to grab multiple prime farms that were well equipped. The war veteran’s militias were just tools that were used and discarded.

The chaos that ZANU PF elites ferment to consolidate wealth and power shall eventually be their destruction. Those who cared to follow the politics of Westeros know how Lord Baelish met his unexpected demise. The wave of destruction he had set in motion engulfed him in the end.

Clinton Siniwa is a Chartered Certified Accountant. You can engage with him on Twitter @ClintSiniwa