The ruling party turns to dirty tactics 

Source: The ruling party turns to dirty tactics –Newsday Zimbabwe

AN independent think-tank has exposed how the ruling Zanu PF is increasingly employing “dirty” tactics against the opposition to manipulate electoral processes in its favour ahead of elections scheduled for next Wednesday.

According to research by the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI), President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has grown increasingly “authoritarian” to ensure the Zanu PF leader is elected for a second term at all costs.

The ZDI report, FAZ, Lawfare and the Menu of electoral manipulation, was released yesterday.

FAZ, an acronym for Forever Associates Zimbabwe, is a shadowy Zanu PF affiliate group with links to the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

It is co-ordinating the ruling party’s campaigns.

FAZ is made up of former military personnel and CIO operatives and is led by CIO deputy director Walter Tapfumaneyi.

“The key findings show that the 2023 menu of electoral manipulations in Zimbabwe is hinged on three key pillars in order of their corrosive capacity on the conduct of free and fair elections which are FAZ, monetary co-optation and law-fare,” the ZDI report read.

“The elections are dominated by electoral manipulation activities of Zanu PF’s quasi-military organisation called FAZ and weaponisation of law [lawfare] to clampdown on the opposition and democracy defenders.”

According to the study, about 65% of respondents said FAZ’s “dirty” hand in electoral malpractices was visible.

 “The majority of citizens in the study (65%) noted that FAZ is associated with intimidation and violence against Zanu PF’s political opponents,” the report read.

“For research, Magunje and Mt Darwin, there was a general consensus that FAZ has been deployed in their communities with an objective of spying on opposition supporters’ political activities ahead of the August elections.

“34% of the research participants indicated that the FAZ is actively visible in the electoral processes.”

It added: “In Mwenezi district in Masvingo, the participants noted that there has been an intensive deployment of FAZ to deter opposition supporters from fully supporting their chosen political parties.

“The majority (68%) of respondents who participated in this study highlighted that FAZ is actively involved in the manipulation of 2023 voters roll.”

The research institute accused Mnangagwa of using the Judiciary, Legislature and other illegal vices to ensure victory at all costs.

The opposition has been crying foul about the intimidation and harassment of its supporters.

Human rights watchdogs have been recording rising cases of political violence and intimidation, with CCC supporters cited as the majority of the victims and Zanu PF members as the perpetrators.

Zanu PF acting director for information, Farai Marapira, however, dismissed reports that the party was employing dirty tactics ahead of the elections.

“It’s just an institution of the opposition which has run out of ideas,” Marapira said.

“All those allegations are actually false. It’s simply a matter of an opposition which has come to elections with no ideas and plans.

“They have nothing to deliver and now they are resorting to lies and this has been their modus operandi from fake abductions, fake allegations of violence. No serious citizen of Zimbabwe will believe that.”

However, ZDI said there was need for civic education to raise awareness on the electoral processes and malpractices.

“This will help in poor voter turnout and it will be hard for the regime to manipulate the outcome of the elections,” it said.

According to the think-tank, there was also need to build a strong and resilient network of supporters and allies who can resist and counter the intimidation, harassment and violence perpetrated by FAZ and other security agents.