President Emmerson Mnangagwa is said to have been so worried about the Harare vote in the August 23 and 24 elections so much that he had to repeatedly check with officials during counting of votes, insiders say.
According to sources, Mnangagwa constantly checked with his top aides if counting of Harare votes had been concluded as counting of votes was going on.
Harare Metropolitan province has about 1 578 000 people, with 907 700 being registered voters in Harare district and 176 000 in Chitungwiza district, while Bulawayo has 287 000 registered voters.
Mutare has also not been an easy support base for the ruling Zanu PF party.
Urban areas have always been safe hunting grounds of votes for the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change, which contested in past elections as MDC.
On August 23, many polling stations in the capital failed to open on time due to late delivery of election material and this forced many to give up their votes, but sources said this still did not calm Mnangagwa’s nerves.
“The president would constantly get updates from the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) director (Isaac Moyo),” a source privy to the goings-on said.
“Every two hours or so, the CIO director would drive to the State House to update the president.
“Even during counting of votes, (Mnangagwa) would ask how he was faring in Harare.
“He knew he would perform better in rural Zanu PF strongholds, but was more worried about the Harare vote.
“When (Mnangagwa) was told that counting was almost over in Harare, he asked repeatedly if the information he was getting was correct.”
In the run up to the August elections, Zanu PF concentrated its campaigns in rural constituencies, with party officials indicating that they had no confidence in urban voters.
The stance also saw the provincial leadership in Mashonaland West struggling to find a venue for Mnangagwa’s star rally, which was eventually held at Magunje in Hurungwe District.
The Zanu PF commissariat had dismissed Karoi and Chinhoyi as potential venues.
Mnangagwa’s lieutenants Constantine Chiwenga, Kembo Mohadi and Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri also concentrated their rallies in rural constituencies.
The source added that Forever Associate Zimbabwe (Faz) agents, who were designated as constituency specialists, were asked to give “honest assessments” from their bases.
Information on Faz’s website says it is a registered private voluntary organisation, but reports indicate that it has strong links to the CIO and is run by the spy organisation’s deputy director-general, retired Brigadier-General Walter Tapfumaneyi.
“They were told not to inflate anything, but present honest situational reports,” the source added.
“Apparently, if it was not for Faz, the president would not have reached the percentage he got. He would have gotten maybe 48% or so.”
“There were constant updates from the polling stations and collation of votes was being done at Chaminuka Building (the CIO headquarters).
“The military intelligence was doing its own collation of votes, but they predicted a higher percentage than the one predicted by the CIO.
“It’s the same as happened in 2018, where the military intelligence predicted around 56% win for ED, yet the CIO said he could get around 53%.”
In the 2018 elections, Mnangagwa got 51,44%, while his rival Nelson Chamisa, who then led the MDC Alliance, got 45,07%.
The source said voter intimidation, late distribution of election materials such as ballot papers, state media blackout and voter assistance could be singled out as the electoral malpractices that were employed by Zanu PF in tilting the scale in its favour.
At around mid-morning, Mnangagwa is said to have received information that Faz members had set up poll exit interview desks near polling stations, some within the 300 metre range of the polling stations, in violation of electoral rules, and he “immediately ordered them to move away”.
This publication understands that the Joint Operations Command the supreme organ for the co-ordination of State security in Zimbabwe was camped at Chaminuka Building and were given a floor to operate from.
It is comprised of Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri, Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Philip Valerio Sibanda, Zimbabwe National Army commander Lieutenant General David Sigauke, Air Force of Zimbabwe commander Air Marshal Elson Moyo, police commissioner-general Godwin Matanga, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services commissioner-general Moses Chihobvu and CIO director-general Moyo, among others.
It is understood that Zanu PF hierarchy and Cabinet ministers that attacked Southern African Development Community head of election observer mission, Nevers Mumba, were first debriefed at Chaminuka Building before lashing out at the former Zambian vice president.
Zanu PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa discredited Mumba as an election observer accusing him of overstepping his role after he released a damning report flagging the elections as not credible.
Acting Foreign Affairs minister Amon Murwira told ambassadors from the Sadc region that the report presented by Mumba was a threat to the territorial integrity of Zimbabwe and a departure from Sadc rules and guidelines and should, therefore, be edited before the final report is delivered.