Forever Associates of Zimbabwe Trust (FAZ), an affiliate of the ruling Zanu PF that is operating under the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to mainly campaign for President Emmerson Mnangagwa ahead of the 2023 general elections, has failed to pay its thousands of recruits for three months.
A FAZ strategic plan that was recently leaked to the media describes the recruits as “volunteers”, who are estimated to number 5910.
Each of the country’s 1970 wards has at least three volunteers incorporated to essentially assess the electorate and drum up support for Mnangagwa, the Zanu PF presidential candidate gunning for a second five-year term.
Mnangagwa succeeded the late Robert Mugabe—who had been in power since independence in 1980—through a military assisted takeover in November 2017.
He ruled on a caretaker basis until the July 2018 elections, which he narrowly won against the MDC-A’s Nelson Chamisa who unsuccessfully challenged the presidential poll result the same year.
NewHub talked to FAZ volunteers—most who were bussed into Chipinge in Manicaland province for the Zanu PF election launch in June—who confirmed that they had not been paid for the last three months.
The volunteers, who revealed that they had not signed contracts to help in the poll campaigns, were being given US$380 per month since early this year.
“We are working under difficult conditions. This is the third month without getting salaries yet our bosses are still ordering us to go out daily to recruit new members, ensure that the people we approach in the wards are registered and provide intelligence on the activities of opposition members,” said one of the recruits on condition of anonymity.
Like almost all the other volunteers, he is unemployed and operates from a rural ward in the Midlands province.
The recruits, said other volunteers from Mashonaland West province, have been given tablets to enter information of potential voters that includes phone numbers, area of residence, voter registration status and party affiliation.
According to the recruits, people who would not have registered as voters or whose party affiliation is not clear are classified as “pending”, so there must be constant follow-ups with them.
“We are having to use our own money to do the campaigns. As for me, I’m constantly begging my parents for money to buy data and airtime.
“What makes it worse is the fact that we don’t know who to approach to air our grievances since the FAZ structures are not clear,” added another recruit from Masvingo. “We are just hanging on because we hope that the chefs will reward our work with projects and jobs”.
The volunteers said they were mostly in touch with junior CIO operatives who came to gather situation reports from them.
The FAZ, which reportedly received US$10 million from government and other unknown sources recently, was reportedly forking out more than US$2 million to pay the recruits per month.
The recruits that NewsHub interviewed feared that the association could have run out of funds or the “chefs” were abusing the money for personal gain.
While earlier reports indicated that FAZ had received 200 off-road vehicles for mobilisation campaigns covering the 10 provinces, the volunteers said they were using their own resources for intra- and inter-ward travel.
They said they had been promised a mini-bus per province, but none had come.
Initially, it was established, the volunteers were confined to their own wards but they are now fishing for voters from outside their own areas.
In contrast, they divulged, members of Heritage, a shadowy military outfit performing the same role as the FAZ recruits, have been given motor cycles to use during their operations.
They accused the FAZ bosses of giving priority to Heritage in the allocation of funds.
The Heritage operatives are far fewer than the FAZ volunteers, with only three allocated to each province.
In the past, the military headed the Zanu PF election campaigns but, this time around, the CIO is said to be playing a leading role since President Mnangagwa reportedly mistrusts the army and wants national intelligence to act as a checkmate.
The shadowy FAZ could not be traced for a comment.