Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ), a group associated with Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU PF,  has come under scrutiny for alleged involvement in vote manipulation. Critics view this as a calculated effort to maintain Emmerson Mnangagwa’s hold on power.

Registered as a private non-governmental organization, FAZ openly aims to assist Mnangagwa in dominating the upcoming general election. However, opposition parties and civic activists have accused FAZ of voter intimidation and interference in electoral processes.

According to Zivanai Muzorodzi, director of Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development, an NGO in Masvingo, FAZ members have been distributing deceptive information, such as falsely claiming that FAZ would be present at polling stations where voter registration is required before voting, prior to the August 23 election.

The Citizens Coalition for Change, led by Nelson Chamisa, has alleged that FAZ orchestrated a bold scheme to fund counterfeit opposition candidates, aiming to create confusion among voters. The CCC further asserts that FAZ played a role in the lawsuit that nearly led to the deregistration of twelve candidates in Bulawayo, although they were eventually reinstated by the courts. Gift Siziba, one of the candidates and deputy spokesperson of the party said:

"We know FAZ was behind it. No ordinary citizens would have the time and money to spend on such litigation."

Pedzisai Ruhanya, director of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, characterised FAZ as a “hybrid securocrat organisation” encompassing elements of the military, intelligence services, and the police, despite any denials. Ruhanya stated:

"It has a civilian component but that’s meant to hide the fact that it’s the securocrats who are in charge. No civilian organisation has the resources or the power to do what FAZ does."

However, Walter Tapfumaneyi, the deputy director-general for operations at the CIO, refuted claims of intelligence involvement in FAZ, stating that they were a false narrative propagated by the opposition and aligned media. He told the Financial Times:

"I have nothing to do with Forever Associates Zimbabwe, either personally or officially."

Tapfumaneyi, however, conceded that his wife was a member and that a son was a FAZ founder before ending his membership adding that his family’s involvement does not make him an owner or controller of FAZ.

The specific membership and resources of FAZ remain undisclosed, but reports from opposition activists and the group’s social media presence indicate a significant presence, including rallies in rural areas where opposition parties have traditionally faced restrictions. According to FAZ’s website, their campaign activities include personal voter contact through door-to-door visits, aiming to dominate the political landscape while denying the same opportunities to opponents.

Kudakwashe Munsaka, the FAZ president, acknowledged the group’s affiliation with Zanu-PF and its role in supporting the party’s campaign efforts, including voter mobilization. However, he denied any wrongdoing or illegality in FAZ’s election activities, emphasizing their commitment to non-violence and refuting allegations of voter intimidation. Munsaka also attributed the confusion caused by false candidates within the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) to the CCC’s own organizational shortcomings. He said:

"Violence and intimidation are absolutely alien to our ways. Allegations of threatening villagers on where to vote are equally false, unfounded and denied with the contempt they deserve.

You cannot operate a structureless party and then later on you want to blame [FAZ] for causing confusion."

According to NewsDay, FAZ’s actions reflect internal divisions within ZANU PF, with some party members accusing FAZ of removing ZAANU PF stalwarts and ministers during the primaries. Analysts suggest that these divisions stem from conflicts over access to patronage within ZANU PF, similar to the tensions that led to the 2017 coup and Emmerson Mnangagwa’s rise to power. Resentment has grown due to the accumulation of substantial wealth by individuals close to Mnangagwa.