FOREVER Associates Zimbabwe (Faz), a shadowy organisation linked to the country’s spy agency, has retraced its footsteps back into the political arena, this time campaigning for ruling party candidates vying for nine parliamentary seats which fell vacant following recalls by the self-imposed main opposition party secretary-general Sengezo Tshabangu.
Vacancies were created when Tshabangu wrote to the clerk of Parliament, announcing that he had recalled 14 legislators drawn from Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North and Bulawayo provinces as well as Mabvuku-Tafara constituency in Harare.
Several opposition local authority councillors were also recalled. Now as the 9 December by-elections draw closer, Faz, which was at the centre of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s disputed electoral victory, is using both overt and covert tactics to win erstwhile opposition seats.
While some vacancies will be filled without going to polls through proportional representation, there will be by-elections in nine constituencies.
Information gathered by The NewsHawks indicates that Faz, which is headed by deputy director-general of the Central Intelligence Organisation Walter Tapfumanei, has therefore redeployed its officers in the constituencies where they are using various campaign strategies to help Zanu PF snatch seats from CCC and achieve its aim to have a two-thirds majority in Parliament that can enable the ruling party to tinker with the constitution.
In Lupane, where there is a by election, The NewsHawks has established that Faz is employing intimidation tactics by threatening villagers that they will be excluded from government food handouts and agricultural input programmes if they continued voting for the opposition.
In other areas, Faz members are carrying out door-to-door campaigns, with Zanu PF cell registers forcing residents to give out their personal details that the shadowy group will use on its exit poll survey desks.
Gift “Ostalos” Siziba, the CCC deputy spokesperson, in an interview with The NewsHawks, confirmed that Faz has gone back to the ground in its bid to push for Zanu PF victories in the campaigns albeit through undemocratic means.
“Faz is working in communities so that Zanu PF wins on the margin of terror. They are also coming into urban areas now and the case of slain Bishop Tapfumanei Masaya is the latest example.
“In a free and fair election, Zanu PF knows that it will never win a single seat in those by-elections. We have said that any elections without reforms is not about political choices but life and death. The elections are no longer about contestation of ideas but life and death,” he said.
Siziba revealed that the CCC has since devised ways to slow down Faz and push back on its nasty activities.
“We are deploying young people to defend the vote. We know they want to win through ballot stuffing. As a democratic party, we are also continuing to report cases to police even though they seem powerless to tackle Faz. We are saying police under all circumstances must perform their constitutional duties of protecting citizens,” said the deputy CCC spokesperson.
During the last elections, The NewsHawks gathered details of how the intelligence service through Faz was running the Zanu PF campaign as defined in its operating manual titled “Scope of Campaign Activities”.
Part of the document reads: “The mainstay of this campaign is door-to-door intimate voter contact. This allows the volunteer to move from house-to-house and workplace-to-workplace, talking to individual voters one at a time. This, in turn, enables the volunteer to know the problems voters face, gauge their level of support for party and candidate, and tailor massages and campaign activities to address their concerns. These visits must not be once-off, but must become regular to help the party to dominate and saturate the environment while denying the same to opponents.”
Faz also played a major role in destabilising the opposition at the candidate nomination exercise for the 23 August polls. The shadowy group planted double and sometimes triple parallel candidates to those genuinely put forward by the Nelson Chamisa-led party, in a well-orchestrated ploy to split the opposition vote.
The chicanery involved sponsoring the candidates to submit nomination papers to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) without the approval of the CCC and also forging the signatures and logo of the party. The trend was rampant in Harare’s peri-urban constituencies where Zanu PF was anxious to outfox the opposition.
Kudakwashe Chatambudza was the only candidate on the official CCC shortlist for Epworth South, but two names, Solomon Baramasimbe and Dydmus Bande, emerged on a Zec list, making a total of three CCC candidates vying for that constituency and the mess was engineered by Faz.
In Harare East, where Allan “Rusty” Markham and Tendai Biti made it to the final CCC shortlist and Markham emerged as the preferred candidate but, shockingly, a strange individual Malvin Razaru, appeared on the Zec list as a CCC candidate.
Joana Mamombe was the CCC candidate for Harare West, but Faz pushed through Farai Michael Padzarondora to appear alongside her as a CCC candidate.
In St Mary’s (Chitungwiza), Freddy Michael Masarirevhu of the CCC was listed allegedly without his knowledge as another candidate after the party’s official candidate, Brighton Mazhindu.
Faz forged signatures as well as the party logo and proceeded to pay nomination fees for him. Harare South, a peri-urban area represented by Mnangagwa’s relative Tongai Mnangagwa on a Zanu PF ticket, ended up having three candidates for the CCC: George Magweta, Dorothy Musonza and Trouble Hasha after Faz interference.
While Agency Gumbo was the official candidate for the CCC in Hatcliffe, Faz added one more, Lloyd Sande, in a bid to split the opposition and harvest votes for Zanu PF.
Faz spread its operation to Hunyani constituency where Lovemore Chinoputsa, the official CCC candidate, appeared on the Zec list with another individual, Terrence Khumbula, using the opposition party name.
In Hatfield, the CCC’s Revai Nyamuronda again appeared on the Zec final list with another candidate pushed by Faz to contest using the same party name, Admire Griza. In Bulawayo, three constituencies had two CCC double candidates — Phelandaba-Tshabalala, Entumbane-Njube and Pumula.
CCC candidates Donald Mabutho and Bekithemba Nyathi both filed papers to contest in ward 9, again at the instigation of Faz.
Soon after the August 23 general elections, foreign election observer missions accredited to Zimbabwe flagged the involvement of Faz in manipulating voting preferences, predominantly in rural areas.
Faz has been accused of intimidating the rural electorate while mobilising support for Zanu PF as part of Mnangagwa’s power retention plan.