Corruption watch: August 23 elections are already rigged

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Forever Associates of Zimbabwe (Faz) is, in deed, a new kid on the block, even though it’s not that new.

It’s new in the sense that while it was established as a trust way back in 2012, it hasn’t really done anything that attracts attention, until the ruling Zanu PF did its primary elections earlier this year.

We all know that Faz steered the party’s primary elections, talking loosely.

That was after it became an affiliate of Zanu PF, pretty like from nowhere.

Now, this spooky association is hogging the limelight.

Most people who now know about it think of it as the one that’s doing the grassroots and technical voter mobilisation for the party, ahead of the 2023 polls.

The truth, though, is that it’s not Faz, but the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) that’s running this campaign.

Faz is just coming in as some sort of a special purpose vehicle to boost Zanu PF’s and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s electoral chances.

This hazy but very spooky outfit is led by a senior CIO serviceman, Walter Tapfumaneyi who is a deputy director general and retired brigadier general.

Once you get a DGG to lead an outfit, you are making a civil servant lead that outfit, because a DGG, just like any other serviceperson, is a civil servant.

So, if you still had doubts on whether or not Faz is being run on government resources, there you have it.

We know that the law doesn’t like civil servants who dabble in politics, so his role in the Faz campaign becomes a criminal one.

Nobody is surprised, though. This has been the case since Jesus Christ flew back to heaven, but it doesn’t make it right.

Since Faz is being used by CIO, we once again slip back into the old mess whereby party is conflated with government.

CIO is — or is supposed to be — a state agency.

A state agency is part of the government, naturally.

That, therefore, means Faz is doing government work, just that the work is skewed to favour the ruling party. But it’s supposed to be private enterprise.

Faz is unconstitutional — and therefore illegal — at two different levels. One, it is operating against the Zanu PF constitution because it has effectively supplanted a constitutional arm of the party, the commissariat.

Two, it is performing the functions of a state institution even though it’s clearly not one and is not recognised as one under all the constitution’s 18 chapters and 345 sections, complete with the schedules and what not.

This is just the background.

You will be shocked to learn what the CIO and its Faz are up to as the 2023 election agencies for Zanu PF and its presidential candidate.

The sitreps (situation reports in military terms) reaching yours truly’s desk are shocking.

The C Numbers have permeated all the breadth and length of Zimbabwe.

They are sniffing and huffing in every one of the country’s 1 970 wards.

According to the sitreps, they have recruited three “volunteers” per ward, meaning that they are working with  a ghost workforce of 5 910 that is getting at least US$380 in salaries per capita, well beyond what a teacher is getting.

That means more than US$2 million in unbudgeted salaries for fraudulent and ghost employees.

Already, the sitreps have indicated that Faz received some 200 off-road vehicles to use during the campaign.

A quick calculation shows that if you assume one vehicle is costing US$50 000, government has already spent at least US$2 million on the cars.

Add to that the damfuls of fuel that go with it, the thousands of cellular phones given to the ground force, the airtime and data as well as tablets to do GPS configurations.

I’m saying government because, as already said, CIO is a state institution.

It doesn’t matter that there are some opportunistic goons out there who traditionally fork out mega-million to fund Zanu PF election campaigns just so as to do money laundering and the like at will.

The bottom line is that this is a publicly funded campaign, and those suspects are just coming in to supplement the resources.

We don’t really know where the money is coming from, but your guess is just as good as the one that any Longjohn at a morning bottlestore on a Saturday will give you.

We know that the CIO works on a secret budget, which is actually understandable if the budget is not vulnerable to gross abuse.

We can only guess if, or not part of the money is coming from diamonds.

Or the overprinting of money by Fidelity that then goes onto the black market to scoop up good and real money and whip up crazy price hikes as we are seeing.

 Whichever way, Mthuli Ncube, as the Finance minister, owes us an explanation, then a big apology after that.

What’s particularly worrying, then, is how citizen money is being (ab)used to rig elections against the same citizens in a very, very illegal way. 

A secret report by Faz titled Faz Campaign Scope shows that this shadowy proxy is collecting bio-data from the people and using it to moblise them.

That’s bigly criminal.

The last time it happened, it was the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that shared our data with Zanu PF at the last elections.

So what are the culprits going to say now that we have a data protection and privacy act that’s against snooping into our bio-data?

Besides, it’s clear that doing so always has both the potential and reality to spook voters. That’s what you call voter intimidation and voter intimidation doesn’t give you free, fair and credible election results.

How are you going to feel if a stranger will suddenly call just to say hi and then reminds you to register to vote, for Zanu PF? For this is what the Faz strategic plan is saying.

The Faz volunteers are running deep, down to the household, especially in rural areas. If they won’t be a nuisance to a non-Zanu PF supporter, they are definitely going to be scary intruders.

Besides, as the reports indicate, these Faz blokes are mapping out supporters of the opposition — to mean CCC.

It won’t make sense to expend time and resources on people who don’t like you.

 This, therefore, means, there is a sinister motive for doing so.

One thing that’s abundantly obvious about the Faz campaign is that it essentially aims to map voter tendencies and patterns so that this information will be used to inform Zanu PF responses before and during the elections.

During the elections is particularly worrying because the information can be abused. Just get wild with your imagination.

What do you think they will do in those cases that they would have seen that Zanu PF is unpopular in certain wards and constituencies?

 Clue: these guys will do anything and everything to ensure a Zanu PF win.

Tawanda Majoni writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted on [email protected]

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