THE shadowy Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)-run Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz), which has unconstitutionally seized control of the running of the 2023 elections to retain President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zanu PF in power, has deeply penetrated communities and tightened its grip on the electoral process, an investigation by The NewsHawks shows.
While Mnangagwa and Zanu PF leveraged the military to win the 2018 elections and other previous polls, this time round the CIO, working with other state institutions, is running the show to ensure Mnangagwa’s re-election amid fears of internal sabotage.
Sidelined army commanders aligned to Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, who ran the last elections and previous ones under the late former president Robert Mugabe, are sulking and furious about this strategy.
The investigation, carried out in collaboration with Information for Development Trust under a project probing corruption, bad governance and electoral manipulation, revealed that the CIO-controlled Faz has spread its tentacles to every ward in the country, collecting vital voters’ details right down to household level using an army of 5 910 information gatherers.
The information gatherers — three in each of the country’s 1 970 wards — are working under the close supervision of their CIO handlers. Each information gatherer is being paid US$380, meaning government is spending US$2 245 800 monthly on unbudgeted salaries.
They are also getting generous portions of the local currency as part of their salaries. In previously elections Zanu PF has received election funding from dodgy business people and the sale of minerals, such as diamonds, whose funds are not sent to Treasury.
The scientific-like CIO strategy enables Zanu PF to control the electoral process in terms of structures, numbers of registered voters and the actual voting process, as well as polling stations. It also promotes systematic voter intimidation and victimisation, especially at ward level.
An operational Faz document titled Faz Campaign Scope, seen by The NewsHawks, says the organisation has penetrated all provinces up to household level through several tactics, leaving voters vulnerable to abuse during the 23 August elections.
“Once the party has access to the voters’ roll, preferably broken down to constituencies and even to polling stations, volunteers must keep in touch with registered voters through texting and phoning. This must be done almost intrusively, as a way of maintaining intimacy. Volunteers should be in the habit of checking on the health and well-being of voters as a way of showing the party’s and candidate’s concern. This can also be used for reminding voters of important election-related events and issues, while also keeping them up to date on key developments,” the document reads.
“Faz volunteers are required to intrusively access party cell registers, from party cell chairmen, and check and verify their accuracy and integrity. To this end, Faz then discretely conducts a head count of cell members, checking if they are registered to vote. If any party members or holders of positions of leadership are found not to have national documents or registered to vote, Faz, therefore, will handhold and assist all those to rectify the discrepancy under supervision.
“Volunteers must be available to furnish voters with the party’s and candidate’s campaign literature in their homes and workspaces. This will be done door-to-door or at community gatherings. Literature will also be distributed at markets, bus termini or shops, thus helping to expand the campaign to voters outside the volunteer’s immediate area of responsibility.” Volunteers were also tasked with administering voter education, assisting undocumented or aliens to acquire national registration documents and to register to vote.
“These interventions, which are already taking place in all constituencies nationwide, should result in a significant surge in registered voters who attribute that achievement to President ED (Mnangagwa) and Zanu PF. Volunteers must maintain contact with people they would have assisted to register to vote or to acquire national documents so that they are not won over to the opposition’s poisonous narratives,” the document reads.
Critical information being collected by the agents and informers includes names, addresses, identity numbers and voter registration details at polling station level. Faz is also counting people at household level before recording the information on their tablets and smartphones.
The information which will be computed, condensed into data and processed will be crucial in influencing and manipulating the electoral process in favour of Zanu PF through a combination of tactics, including persuasion and intimidation, in some cases.
It is also being used to predict potential outcomes, using real figures, so that Zanu PF knows which constituencies and wards to put campaign resources in or activate its coercive machinery.
Faz, which is registered as a private organisation focusing on philanthropic work, is led by CIO co-deputy director-general retired Brigadier-General Walter Tapfumaneyi at national level.
The NewsHawks has previously gathered and reported that Faz received an initial disburse ment of US$10 million and 200 cars to run its affairs in preparation for elections. Additional resources have been promised to capacitate the secret structure.
The mandate of Faz, working together with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and its chair Justice Priscilla Chigumba, is to coordinate logistics and decisive forces to retain Mnangagwa in power.
The NewsHawks investigation, which also focused on Masvingo, also established that Faz has structures at national, provincial, district, constituency and ward levels — where minute details are collected for use in the electoral process.
The organisation is visible countrywide and has been sending shivers down the spines of many, especially opposition supporters, particularly in rural areas. Faz has now displaced the army’s structure called Heritage which used to perform a similar role and other functions.
In 2018, the army ran the elections through Heritage and Africom, a converged communication service provider.
With its members spread across provinces, Faz rose to prominence last year by playing a pivotal role in making Zanu PF cell registers before running Zanu PF primary elections this year.
The organisation also mobilised people during voter registration and they caused panic due to their presence at Zimbabwe Electoral Zec centres during the recently held voters’ roll inspection exercise.
How Faz operates
Information gathered through interviews and reading an operational document shows provincial coordinators report to Tapfumaneyi.
The provincial coordinators have teams in each district countrywide, led by district intelligence officers. The CIO structure include directors and branches they run at the top at its Chaminuka Building headquarters and its sub-offices in Harare; provincial intelligence officers and district intelligence officers.
There also several other departments involved. So district intelligence officers and coordinators oversee operations in constituencies.
At ward level, Faz has recruited and trained three Zanu PF-aligned members to collect information under the supervision of CIO operatives. A Faz operational document calls the three civilians in each ward “volunteers”.
Zimbabwe has 1 970 wards, meaning Faz has recruited 5 910 volunteers who are part of its machinery to run the elections. In Masvingo province, which has 242 wards, there are 726 Faz volunteers in total.
The volunteers report to CIO operatives who manage intelligence at constituency level and their information is transmitted through applications on their phones provided by Faz.
They also collect GPS coordinates for each household and monitor political activities of people in their respective areas. The approach and systematic use of data for political and electoral purposes amounts to an illegal mass surveillance and data collection technique, an intricate “watch over” of people, in this specific case in Masvingo using technology and other means.
CIO operatives and Faz volunteers attend most Zanu PF events and their presence is usually acknowledged by ruling party officials.
Faz has a specific mandate to undermine the opposition.
“The message must seek to thoroughly discredit the opposition and its candidate, rendering them unelectable. This includes anything that makes their candidate stink to the heavens, and speaking against their party’s anarchic, subversive, treasonous, undemocratic and terrorist pedigree and related actions,” the document reads.
The document also carries the code of conduct for all Faz members which urges members to be ambassadors of Zanu PF who should only represent the interests of the party.
“We do not and shall not claim to have any other identity than that we are members of Faz Trust, a private organisation, which is an affiliate of Zanu PF. We are as individuals, proudly members of Zanu PF and are unapologetic about this reality,” reads part of the code of conduct.
The main opposition party, CCC this week wrote to ZEC complaining about Faz’s activities among other things. In a letter dated 29 May, addressed to Zec chairperson Priscilla Chigumba, senior party official Ian Makone.
“The presence of FAZ organisation at the inspection centres must be explained because in some instances Faz officials are interfering with, and even controlling the process. We cannot have an illegal body overriding the operations of a Constitutional body,” wrote Makone.
FAZ in Masvingo
Investigations by The NewsHawks established that the leader of Faz in Masvingo is a CIO operative called Jacqueline Moloyi stationed at the spy organisation’s provincial offices at Nssa Building in Masvingo town.
District Intelligence Officers (DIOs) coordinate Faz activities in districts and operatives in charge of constituencies coordinate operations of the organisation in constituencies. Faz members are receiving salaries which are higher than those of most civil servants.
They are getting a monthly salary of US$380 and a generous portion in local currency. They also get other benefits which include phones (tablets) which they use to submit their reports.
Efforts to get a comment from Moloyi were fruitless as she was continuously unreachable on mobile phone.
A Faz insider told The NewsHawks that members were given tablets similar to those which were used by Zec officials during voter registration, so that they can use GPS coordinates, to make it easy to locate various people.
“This thing is being run by our office. There is nothing like Faz as a non- governmental organisation since it is being funded by government. Our agents are in control of it, all the information being collected is coming to our offices for action. Have you noticed that Faz members are using tablets and those tablets are carrying various applications which use GPS for easy reporting? This is meant to drum up support for the President during the coming elections, that’s why the team is being paid handsomely,” said Faz member.
Identify opposition members
Faz members say they can easily identify non-Zanu PF members because they have access to Zanu PF cell registers.
“The assumption is that one is either an opposition supporter or an undecided voter, if they are registered to vote but do not appear in Zanu PF structures. So, there is a deliberate effort to recruit from this pool and that’s where persuasion and propaganda come in,” said a Faz member.
“Of course, some are known opposition activists or sympathisers. Intimidation is then deployed on such people. In rural areas, the message has been clear to such people that they are viewed with suspicion because they are not in party structures.”
Zanu PF Masvingo provincial spokesperson Pepukai Chiwewe said his party does not work directly with Faz, which he said is just an affiliate of the party like other affiliates.
Chiwewe said Faz members may campaign for Zanu PF, including attending party events, just like what state security agents do.
“Faz is just an affiliate of Zanu PF and none of our members submit reports to it. Its members, just like any other security organisation of the party, are allowed to attend our events and we are not aware of where they submit their reports,” he said.
Zaka rural district councillor for ward 19 Peter Imbayarwo (CCC) said Faz members have been intimidating people living around Jerera Growth Point by visiting homes.
The NewsHawks visited Zaka South’s ward 24 during the process of voters’ roll inspection over the weekend and witnessed Anita Paidamoyo Chivingwi, a Faz member, sitting a few metres away from the centre, taking down details of all those who inspected the voters’ roll.
Faz was deployed round the country to monitor the voters’ inspection process. Their presence was visible in Harare and Bulawayo, for instance, this week.
Independent electoral experts and journalists saw and reported Faz activities.
CCC also publicly complained about Faz. Independent Norton MP Temba Mliswa has made the loudest protests about Faz activities yet.
A traditional leader said Chivingwi has been threatening opposition supporters with death before elections if they continue to support CCC.
Former legislator and CCC senior official in Chiredzi Machirairwa Mugidho told The NewsHawks that Faz members working with CIO agents are violating fundamental human rights and constitutional freedoms.
She said her party reported to police several cases of Faz members in Zec centres during inspection of the voters’ roll.
“We are worried by activities of Faz members who are moving around threatening our people. They are doing this with support from CIO and this violates one’s freedoms as enshrined in our constitution. We witnessed several cases of Faz people taking details of voters at Zec centres and we reported the cases. In other instances, police chased them away, but they continued,” said Mugidho.
Susan Mabunda, a single mother from Chilonga in Chiredzi South, said people in her community, especially women, are no longer free to participate in political activities due to the continued monitoring by Faz members who are forcing them to support Zanu PF.
She said Faz members have been listing the names of CCC supporters and those attending the opposition party’s rallies and other political events, including the nomination process.
“Faz is limiting our freedoms. Our area is less developed, maybe because we are the (minority) Shangaan people. This can be addressed only if we vote for a new government, but our political movements are being monitored by Faz members who are in our communities,” she said.
While Mnangagwa and Zanu PF relied on the military to win the last elections, this time round Faz — a CIO-run shadowy outfit — is running the show and pulling out all the stops to deliver victory by fair means or foul.