TENSION between Zanu PF’s restive group Forever Associate Zimbabwe (Faz) and the military is likely to rise after if Zanu PF and President Emmerson Mnangagwa forms the next government after Wednesday’s elections given the president’s plan to push the military back to the barracks.
Even before the polls, Mnangagwa had long orchestrated a plan to confine the army in the barracks and prop up the influence of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), which runs Faz through Deputy Director General Walter Tapfumaneyi (pictured).
Mnangagwa after the last elections has been increasingly decreasing the influence of the army which he felt has been holding him hostage after staging the 2017 military coup that was led by the then Commander Defence Forces General Constantino Chiwenga. Chiwenga went on to swap his military fatigues for civilian power.
He was appointed Vice President but his relationship with Mnangagwa has deteriorated over the years over unresolved succession issues.
Although Mnangagwa has made changes to military commanders, removing some of Chiwenga’s loyalists and key players in the coup such as Retired Leuitenant General Anslem Sanyatwe — now Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Tanzania — he still does not trust the army hence his move to confine them in barracks if he forms the next government.
Government officials say if Mnangagwa wins, the army will be forced to accept the new structure. The CIO secretly took over from the military running of the national elections early this year in a design meant to manipulate the process in favour of the incumbent Mnangagwa and his government.
This role had always been clandestinely managed by the military for decades. The CIO seized control of the electoral process through Faz, which is not a constitutional or official arrangement, but an underground operational unit that has been campaigning for Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF in next week’s general elections.
As a result, Faz has now displaced the army’s structure called Heritage that used to perform a similar role and other functions. In 2018, the army ran elections through Heritage and Africom, a converged communication service provider. T
he CIO move and channeling of public resources to its shadowy structure has been unconstitutional, according to legal experts. Faz received US$10 million and 200 cars to run its affairs in preparation for elections.
Faz’s mandate, working together with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and its chair Priscilla Chigumba, has been to coordinate logistics and decisive forces to retain Mnangagwa in power. This has rattled the army which was previously in charge.
One military commander previously described Faz as a “potential Frankenstein monster” during a conversation with a colleague.
“Faz, which is a CIO structure, has taken over the running of elections within Zanu-PF and nationally,” a source said.
“It is run by Tapfumaneyi and is answerable to the President. It is a dangerous arrangement as this creature, which we don’t even understand, and it may end up being a Frankenstein monster.”
The army and CIO have ongoing fierce rivalry which heightened during the coup in 2017. One CIO senior officer, Peter Munetsi, was killed by the army during the coup.
The situation is worsened by Zanu-PF factionalism and an explosive power struggle over the party’s unsettled leadership.
Since the removal of the late former president Mugabe, the leadership question has not been fully addressed, hence occasional eruptions of the problem; with the deadly manifestation of the issue being the White City grenade attack in Bulawayo in June 2018.
In his vigorous power consolidation process, Mnangagwa has purged nearly all key members of the coup coalition in a subttle coup-proofing strategy.
This has left him relatively unchallenged. Even though Mnangagwa won at congress last October, those aligned to co-Vice-President Chiwenga say the succession battle is not yet over.
Sources said Chiwenga is bitter because Mnangagwa hoodwinked him as they had initially agreed he was going to serve one term and hand over power to his deputy or any other candidate from the army t to become state president, subject to elections.
Informed sources said Faz was given the mandate to run the electoral process and elections behind-the-scenes to ensure Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF wins and then confine the army to the barracks. Faz liaises with Zanu-PF, government institutions and electoral agencies on behalf of Mnangagwa and his party to ensure things go right and they win.
This is largely informed by the need to counter a growing fear of “bhora musango” or internal sabotage. Faz has been prepared, like the army always was, to rig the just ended elections for Mnangagwa if need be.
Although it is not a constitutional government body but a CIO operational structure, Faz is funded through state resources. It was given US$10 million in public funds, 200 cars and a number of CIO officers to coordinate its activities to run elections for Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF. Its personnel are secretly paid in United States dollars outside the official government payroll.
Tapfumaneyi, a retired brigadier-general, runs Faz and reports directly to Mnangagwa. As part of election campaigns, Faz sent out a large contingent of security operatives to the ground across the country to mobilise votes for Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF.
The army is also organising and campaigning for Mnangagwa in a minimal way. These structures have been going around the country holding meetings, mobilising people and putting in place logistics for Mnangagwa’s election campaigns.
However, in the endgame, Mnangagwa, a natural schemer from the days of Mugabe, has planned to decrease influence of the military and rule with increased cooperation with the CIO if he won the Wednesday elections that pitted him with opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa.
Analysts have however already predicted a tight race that could spill into a presidential run-off. Chamisa held his last rally in Harare on Monday where a record crowd joined him in rounding up a whirlwind campaign that sometimes ran into turbulence due to the heavy handedness of state security apparatus determined to slow down the charismatic opposition leader.