FAZ in mass deployments ahead of weekend by-elections

Brenna Matendere

Harare—Forever Associates of Zimbabwe Trust (FAZ), a ruling Zanu PF proxy linked to the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), has massively deployed its agents to six constituencies holding by-elections on Saturday, it has been established.

The 3 February by-elections will be held in Pelandaba-Tshabalala (Bulawayo), Mkoba North (Gweru), Chegutu West, Zvimba East, Seke, and Goromonzi South following recalls of the constituency legislators.

The recalls were promulgated to fill vacancies left by the recall of Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC) lawmakers by  Sengezo Tshabangu, who took advantage of the absence of a constitution and structures in the party to  impose himself as interim secretary general.

Sengezo Tshabangu has seriously disrupted CCC

Gift Ostallos Siziba, Stephen Chatiza, Tapfumanei Madzimbamuto, Admore Chivero, Oliver Mutasa and Amos Chibaya, respectively, who had won in the August 2023 harmonised elections, were affected by the recalls.

The courts subsequently ruled that they could not once again stand as CCC candidates because they had been removed from the party.

It has been established that FAZ mobilised hundreds of its agents and deployed them within the respective provinces well ahead of the by-elections to monitor the situation, gather intelligence and covertly intimidate voters.

A select number of the FAZ foot soldiers will be deployed as polling agents, according to insiders who talked to NewsHub.

“They (FAZ agents) will be monitoring and gathering intelligence. They have been told that Zanu PF candidates must win at all costs. They are likely to be deployed as polling agents too,” said the source.

Some of the agents are staying at hotels within the provinces where senior Zanu PF members are also being accommodated.

In Mashonaland East province, Oppah Muchinguri-Rushesha, the Defence minister and Zanu PF chairperson, is reported to be leading the campaign in Seke and Goromonzi from a hotel in Marondera.

She could not be reached for a comment, though.

Kudakwashe Mavula Munsaka, the FAZ president, confirmed the mass deployments.

“Our organisation prioritises Zanu PF campaigns and each time the party is going into an election, we go on the ground to work. This has happened with regards to the coming Saturday by-elections. At present, our volunteers (agents) are focusing on campaigning and we are yet to make a decision as to whether they should be party agents,” Munsaka told NewsHub.

More than 5,000 agents were deployed throughout the country to clandestinely gather voter data and collect intelligence that was transmitted to the CIO, which played a central role in campaigning for President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zanu PF in 2023.

On election days, FAZ distributed fliers meant to mislead voters that the opposition had disengaged from the polls but the campaign was largely ignored.

The FAZ agents also set up “exit poll” booths within and outside polling stations and observer missions as well as the opposition condemned the move as a strategy meant to intimidate voters.

A leaked audio reveals how FAZ is strengthening its structures in its support of Zanu PF.

Leaked audio:

In it, one of the senior members of the association is heard informing colleagues that they will soon be given loans to start individual projects meant to thank the agents for helping Zanu PF win the 2023 elections.

The loans, according to the speaker in the audio, will be repaid within five years and will be availed once the agents sign relevant contracts.

The FAZ agents—who are expected to relinquish Zanu PF positions they might hold—will also lead and coordinate village income generating projects to benefit the communities.

Munsaka confirmed that its agents—euphemistically referred to as volunteers—will no longer hold party positions.

“That decision was made long back. It was meant to ensure that our members and volunteers do not pursue their own political ambitions but commit fully to our activities,” he said.

He, however, insisted the projects within the communities were not meant to benefit individuals.

“We are moving into business as an organisation and not as individuals. It is critical to take note of that. Also, we do not get government funding. We depend on resources from our partners but we can’t disclose them,” he said.

The FAZ agents will soon acquire new identity cards to replace the ones they used prior to last year’s elections, it was established.

The association reportedly received more than US$10 million for their campaign last year, and the money is suspected to have been channelled through the CIO, whose deputy director general, Asher Walter Tapfumaneyi, headed FAZ.

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