ZANU PF youths have launched a fresh new campaign to grab all commuter omnibus ranks in Harare and other major cities “to restore sanity in the city centres”, although there are fears the proposal is part of a wider plot by ruling party militias to use the sites as terror bases and cash cows ahead of the 2018 elections.
The youths’ national political commissar, Innocent Hamandishe, made the appeal to President Robert Mugabe at a party conference in Harare on Saturday.
He said control of all city bus terminuses would enable party youths to curb chaos and halt the current wave of anti-government demonstrations by opposition activists in the MDC-T-controlled urban centres.
“Cde President, the youths are saying, with the level of violence in the city, can we be allowed to manage the ranks (bus terminuses) so that we can control this chaos? We want to deploy our youths as rank marshals,” Hamandishe said.
The proposal also triggered fears that the ruling party wants to use the ranks as revenue streams to bankroll party programmes.
But, residents’ associations and opposition parties yesterday expressed fear that Zanu PF youths would turn the terminuses into torture and extortion bases.
A few years ago, Zanu PF youths — under a shadowy group called Chipangano — grabbed most bus terminuses in Harare, where they collected rank fees from commuter omnibus operators on behalf of their party, thereby, short-changing the local authority.
The youths were only ejected in 2012.
Before then, ruling party youths had also invaded other council properties, such as car parks, markets and open spaces, where they deployed their militia to take charge, arguing it was part of Zanu PF’s economic empowerment initiatives.
Harare mayor, Bernard Manyenyeni yesterday said council had not yet been approached, but warned that they would resist the move.
“I hope they are not plotting anarchy and disorder because we will surely deal with that. As a city, we are open to anyone with a noble idea approaching us with their proposal and it will be considered just like any other business initiative,” he said.
MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu said: “The regime knows that they don’t have both the political and moral legitimacy to remain in power and, as such, they have since engaged their default mode, which is violence, brutality, hooliganism and State-sponsored terrorism.
As the MDC, we would like to condemn, in the strongest terms possible, the Zanu PF regime’s penchant for lawlessness and impunity. We know that the regime is desperate to regain control of both Harare and Bulawayo metropolitan provinces and so they will stop at nothing in perpetuating acts of political savagery, including the unlawful occupation of municipal land and other properties and parcelling out the same to Zanu PF regime apologists in a mindless and retrogressive ploy of political patronage.”
PDP spokesperson, Jacob Mafume strongly condemned the proposed move.
“It’s rank madness. They have failed to provide proper jobs for the youths and they want to turn young people into criminals. It’s a harebrained idea from a party of lost souls and a vampire elite, whose imagination is geared towards oppression,” he said.
Combined Harare Residents’ Association director, Mfundo Mlilo said the move would create anarchy and compromise the safety of female travellers, who usually fell prey to Zanu PF terror campaigns.
“Critically and importantly, Zanu PF has realised that it has to monitor the state of these urban protests and by deploying these people, it is deploying spies and informers. But this will not work.”