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Army, CIO involvement in voting



2000 Parliamentary elections

In the run up to the June 2000 Parliamentary election, there was noticeable intervention of the army, and alleged war veterans. The election also came after the formation of the MDC, which fielded candidates in all the 120 constituencies, presenting a serious challenge to the ruling Zanu PF.

There were high levels of violence, intolerance and intimidation, with at least 500 cases of severe injuries, 31 deaths and 70 abductions recorded after the election.

This extensive violence resulted in over 10 000 peasant farm workers and rural-based professionals fleeing from their villages, after threats and violence from alleged war veterans.

2002 Presidential Election

Service chiefs were largely involved in the 2002 election. MDC was gaining popularity, riling Zanu PF.

In 2002, the service chiefs led by the late Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Vitalis Zvinavashe in a joint Press conference, said they would not salute anyone without liberation war credentials.

“Let it be known that the highest office on the land is a ‘straight jacket’ whose occupant is expected to observe the objectives of the liberation struggle.

“We will therefore not accept, let alone support or salute anyone with a different agenda,” Zvinavashe said.

Serious violence was recorded, and according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (Zesn) 945 incidents of torture and 54 deaths were recorded.

48 school closures, 229 intimidations and 214 kidnappings were also recorded. 29 disappearances, 5 rapes, 241 property damages were recorded, including 248 unlawful arrests. More abuses were not captured.  

2005 Parliamentary Election

Ex military official Douglas Nyikayaramba retired from the army to become chief elections officer of what was then called the Electoral Supervisory Commission for the chaotic 2002 and 2005 polls.

However, he returned as commander of 3 Brigade in Mutare after his mission at the elections body had been accomplished. Both elections were won controversially by Zanu-PF.

In 2005, George Chiweshe, a retired army brigadier general, was appointed elections commission chairperson, which he was for the 2008 poll.

The elections were also underlined by serious violence, particularly in the countryside, where MDC was penetrating.

2008 Presidential election

Following the defeat of the late Robert Mugabe by opposition Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC, the army overtook and became arbiter of Zimbabwe’s fate during this period, playing the of political commissar of Zanu PF.

A bloodbath and murders of opposition activists would follow after Mugabe’s shocking defeat.

In an attempt by the military to reverse Mugabe’s defeat by Tsvangirai, the military effectively overthrew the electoral process and unleashed violence and intimidation on a wide scale, after a run off.

Top military commanders accused of masterminding Mugabe’s stay in power include Air Vice Marshal Henry Muchena, Air Commodore Michael Karakadzai, Air Vice Marshal Abu Basutu, Major General Engelbert Rugeje, Retired Major General Gibson Mashingaidze and Brigadier General Douglas Nyikayaramba.

The CIO was also largely involved. However, the army has denied playing any role in the bloody election.

2013 Presidential election

Mugabe emerged victorious in the 2013 polls, overseen by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), highly militarized, and dominated by serving and former officers of the military, police and intelligence service, well-known allies of Zanu-PF.

Mugabe won amid rigging concerns aided by Israeli security company Nikuv International Projects (NIP), which managed both the lists of registered voters and the handling of election results in Zimbabwe.

The company, used several methods to fix the elections in favour of Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF party. The company has several offices, for instance the army’s Josiah
Magama Tongogara barracks and one of the offices was located in the same building as Mugabe’s Registrar-General, Tobaiwa Mudede.

Mudede, who sat in the Joint Operations Command (Joc), which brings together army, police and intelligence chiefs. JOC is said to have been instrumental in Nikuv in 2000.

2018 Presidential election  

The 2018 election was largely run through Heritage and Africom, a converged communication service provider.

An investigation by The NewsHawks last year shows that Africom hosts Zec’s server, bought fit by the United Nations Development Program before the 2018 general election. While Zec has been refusing ownership of such, in May last year, the UNDP confirmed purchasing the server for Zec.  

High-level government sources said the server bought by the UNDP using European Union funds was then used to manipulate the 2018 elections after the military seized control of it through Africom internet service provider.

Concerns arose over the militarisation of Zec, housing ex-military officials like Utloile Silaigwana, who has been recycled since the 2008 chaotic elections. Silaigwana is currently chief elections officer.

2023 Presidential Election

The election, to be held on 23 August this year, has been taken over by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), through Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz), led by CIO co-deputy director-general retired Brigadier-General Walter Tapfumaneyi.

The organisation has three representatives in each ward across the country, and has taken over the voters’ roll inspection process, displacing the army’s structure Heritage.

The takeover of electoral business is not a constitutional or official arrangement, but the underground operational unit campaigning for Mnangagwa and Zanu PF in the August general elections.

Sources say, so far, Faz has received US$10 million and 200 cars to run its affairs in preparation for elections. More resources have been promised to capacitate the secret structure.

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