Zanu PF strikes again, unleashes controversial FAZ group ahead of by-elections in Harare

File pic: Zanu PF youths

THE ruling Zanu PF party has deployed members of the Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ) group ahead of tomorrow’s by-elections in Harare East and Mt Pleasant.

The group was in the vortex of a storm during the country’s harmonised elections in August last year after setting up “Exit Polls” desks outside polling stations where they quizzed voters who and whci party they had voted for.

At the time, the ruling party was evasion and never openly associated with the political outfit.

The two constituencies fell vacant when Fadzayi Mahere and Rusty Markham resigned from Parliament in solidarity with their former Citizens Coalition of Change leader Nelson Chamisa after he quit the party in a huff citing infiltration by the ruling party.

Zanu PF has revealed that it had deployed FAZ and Heritage Trust members at each polling station to secure victory in the by-elections.

The party’s provincial vice-chairman for Harare Ephraim Fundukwa told Vice-President Constantine Chiwenga at a rally in Harare East yesterday that the leadership was leaving no stone unturned to secure outright victory.

“I want to tell you Vice-President [Chiwenga] that the Harare province team is working hard. We have 50 polling stations for the by-election. On each of the polling stations, we have set teams of 20 members,” he said.

“The teams are being led by provincial, FAZ, the Heritage Trust and Young Women for ED members who are campaigning.”

FAZ president Kudakwashe Munsaka told NewsDay yesterday that there was nothing sinister about his members to being deployed by the ruling party because they were a Zanu PF affiliate.

“We have said umpteen times that we are an affiliate of Zanu PF and this has not changed. Yes, indeed, if the party deploys us to assist its campaign for any envisaged by-elections or any restructuring exercises for its organs, we will willingly oblige. We live to serve, as our motto aptly asserts,” he said.

FAZ emerged during the Zanu PF restructuring programmes in 2022, triggering chaotic party primary elections in which it was accused of tilting votes in favour of particular candidates within the party.

During the August 23-24 harmonised elections last year the group attracted widespread condemnation from the opposition CCC and observer missions, who accused it of being part of Zanu PF’s vote rigging machinery.

In their recommendations after the 2023 polls, foreign observer missions delivered scathing assessments of FAZ’s role in the plebiscite. The European Union Election Observer Mission (EUEOM) leader Fabio Massimo Castaldo said FAZ members intimidated the electorate.

The Commonwealth EOM, in its report, also raised concern over the presence of FAZ in rural areas, sentiments which were shared by the Southern African Development Community EOM. NewsDay.

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