Masvingo wrangle: not just a squabble but a fight for the survival of the Karanga


Migrant labourers, some of whom are now citizens of Zimbabwe, constitute 20 percent of the population and are concentrated in the three Mashonaland provinces that are generally regarded to be the home of the Zezurus.

Another form of misrepresentation is the taking for granted of all those in the metropolitan centres like Harare into their fold. Harare and Chitungwiza, for example, with nearly two million people become the largest political province.


The general feeling among the Karangas is that their political fortunes have suffered over the years due to “manipulation by outsiders” who have realised that there is no political future outside ZANU-PF.

“Opportunism internally” has taken its toll and so have deaths.

Karangas trace the first signs of their decline to 1970 when Leopold Takawira, then vice-president of ZANU died in prison. They also missed out on succeeding Ndabaningi Sithole when he was ousted from the presidency in a political coup.

Even then, the Karangas still dominated the ZANU leadership and the growing resentment of the Karanga domination manifested itself in the creation of FROLIZI which was formed initially to unite ZANU and ZAPU but was later hijacked to catapult some Zezuru politicians to positions of power that they had always coveted.

The Nhari rebellion in 1973 further weakened the Karanga grip on ZANU but it was Herbert Chitepo’s death in 1975 that provided one of the severest blows.

The Karangas say their opponents seized on the death of the ZANU national chairman to reduce their influence and members in the party leadership.

Chitepo’s death saw the detention of key Karanga leaders like Josiah Tongogara who were accused of assassinating their leader, a thing that was against all logic because the Karanga already dominated the ruling party and therefore did not really have any reason to dispose of Chitepo.

In fact, some analysts argue that it was the Karangas who saved Chitepo from an internal palace coup just before FROLIZI was formed.

The culling of the Karanga hegemony continued in 1976 when the Dzinashe Machingura group was accused of plotting another palace coup.

Analysts say this group was increasingly showing resentment against former detainees who had taken over leadership of the party.

The Machingura group was crushed by none other than the Karangas who had just been released from detention following the death of Chitepo.

Continued next page


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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