By Mark Mhukayesango
Kwekwe, April 21, 2016 – A ZANU PF terror group, used against opponents by the party in the run up to the 2008 elections, has turned against its own and is now terrorising those linked to a party faction known as Generation 40.
Al Shabab, named after the dreaded Somali Islamist militants, has been the centre of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s influence in Kwekwe.
The group is now using violence to “discipline” other party members viewed to be against the Midlands strongman.
The group has been involved in heinous crimes in Midlands, especially in Kwekwe where it reportedly attacked party supporters who were coming from President Robert Mugabe’s welcoming event at the Harare International Airport few weeks ago.
Mnangagwa’s waning influence in the province has frustrated Al Shabab members, who enjoyed protection from the embattled VP when they grabbed mining claims in the area.
Top party politicians who have fallen victim to the group include Makhosini Hlongwane, Joram Gumbo, Anastasia Ndlovu, Tsitsi Muzenda and Jason Machaya for allegedly siding with first lady Grace Mugabe, whose faction is fighting for Zanu PF control with the Mnangagwa camp.
After a long silence, the group this month besieged the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) when one of the mines owned by Gokwe-Kana MP, Owen Mudha Ncube was shut down for non-compliance with EMA regulations.
It was chaos at the mine when EMA officials tried to reign in the Zanu PF youths, who have been operating at the mine for four months.
The youths have been using dangerous substances like cyanide without clearance from EMA.
Speaking to RadioVOP recently, Al Shabab leader Jonah Nyevera complained of the EMA raids arguing that the decision to shut down the mine was political.
“Why does EMA only come to us only when we have other small scale miners who do not have sufficient papers? This is politically motivated,” he said.
“There is Kandros Mugabe who operates close by who also doesn’t have those papers. Why are they leaving him,” he asked.
Mugabe, a popular gold dealer in the area, is also said to be the President’s nephew.
His mining activities have been monitored by Al Shabab, which has often raided his mine.
“These G40 supporters have gone too far now. We need to whip them into line, how can they connive to close our mine-our only source of livehood,” said Nyevera.
EMA Director Mutsa Chasi told the youths that they needed to comply to the laws of the country or face permanent closure of the mine.
“We need our youths to be hard working like you, but we have to be compliant with the laws. This is not personal or a targeted attack on your mining company, but an exercise on most of the mines here in Kwekwe and around the country,” said Chasi.
Al Shabab has in the past looted party finances to fund its projects around Kwekwe.
Currently, it is running poultry projects and mines.