The role of Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz) Trust, a private organisation linked to the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), in the 2023 elections has sparked tensions and suspicions within state security structures, government and Zanu PF.
Investigations by The NewsHawks have revealed that Faz Trust, which is led by CIO deputy director-general Walter Tapfumaneyi, has taken over the coordination and supervision of Zanu PF’s electoral activities on the ground, while sidelining the army that used to spearhead campaigns.
Faz Trust, which claims to be an affiliate of Zanu PF, has thousands of officers and volunteers working through intelligence structures to door-to-door campaigns, night vigils, community events, technology-based messaging and monitoring all stages of the electoral process.
Sources say President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is a former CIO boss and a securocrat at heart, has deployed Faz Trust to ensure his re-election amid fears of internal sabotage and opposition challenge.
However, some army commanders are unhappy and uneasy about the role of Faz Trust, which they view as an unconstitutional and illegal entity that has usurped their functions and benefits.
A military source said: “There is a lot of resentment and mistrust among the army commanders over Faz Trust. They feel that they have been sidelined and replaced by a shadowy organisation that has no legitimacy or accountability. They also wonder what will happen after the elections. Will Faz Trust become a parallel structure that will challenge the authority of the army and the government?”
One military commander said Faz Trust could backfire on Mnangagwa and cause instability in the country.
“We don’t know who these people are and what they want. They are not transparent or accountable. They are using public funds and resources without any oversight or audit. They are not answerable to anyone except Mnangagwa. They could become a threat to national security and sovereignty if they are not checked and controlled,” he said.
Military chiefs are also questioning the legality and morality of Faz Trust’s involvement in the electoral process, which they say violates the constitution and undermines democracy.
Faz Trust was formed in 2010 by a group of students and faculty members at Solusi University, an institution of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, with the support of the then Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs.
However, it failed to take off due to the political dynamics of the inclusive government that was in office from 2009-2013.
It was revived and re-registered in 2022 under new trustees, with Tapfumaneyi as its leader.
According to its website, Faz Trust is “a private organisation which is duly registered under Zimbabwean Law both as a Trust, under Deed of Trust No. MA 124/2010 issued on 9th February 2010, and a Private Limited Company, Registration No. 12173/2022 of 2nd June 2022”.
It also says it is “an economically empowered, fully integrated and politically conscious community of members; assured through continuance, in perpetuity, of Zanu PF’s revolutionary governance of Zimbabwe in line with the aspirations, gains and Ethos of the Liberation Struggle”.
Faz Trust says it fosters Zimbabwe’s economic development, socio-economic wellbeing and political stability by contributing to all programmes and processes that support continuity.
It also says it has no association with the government or any of its agencies concerning any aspect of its structure, scope of operational activities or choices relevant to its freedom of association.
However, sources say Faz Trust is a CIO front that acts as an extension of Mnangagwa’s office and agenda.
Faz Trust has been arbitrarily deployed to coordinate Zanu PF structures, from cell, branches, districts, district coordinating committees, provinces, the national consultative assembly, central committee to politburo, as well as MPs at ward and constituency levels to ensure they run a tight ship.
Faz Trust is also supervising Zanu PF programmes throughout the constituencies, while motivating and directing lower party structures to participate in the electoral process.
Faz Trust has been well-resourced with money and cars for campaigns. It also boasts of having state-of-the-art equipment and technology for cleaning services, health facilities construction, gold mining resuscitation and food security provision.
Faz Trust has also been using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to promote its activities and agenda.
Faz Trust’s involvement in the 2023 elections has created a strategic brinkmanship between the army and CIO on the ground, as well as within Zanu PF, where some factions are wary of its influence and intentions.