A lot of people out there may not know this yet, but Forever Associates Zimbabwe Trust (Faz) held quite interesting, though familiarly sad debrief meetings this week.
Well, to say the meetings were debrief meetings is a wee too formal and formulaic.
They were, in fact, exit meetings. Those meetings where you say all manner of nice and diplomatic things, but have to also say: Hey, we played, but goodbye. Without exactly using the word “goodbye”.
Three distinct things came out of the meetings that were attended by members of the Central Intelligence Organisation, Zanu PF, other ruling party affiliates and, of course, Faz representatives.
Number one, the predictable thanks. Big up guys, you played well.
We “won” the game because you were good players. In other words, our “victory” at the August elections—particularly for President Emmerson Mnangagwa—is attributed almost entirely to you.
Number two, the future.
Paraphrasing, this meeting would be in vain if we omit informing you that we have big plans for you, going forward.
You know the next elections will be in 2028—forget all this trash about a GNU or transitional government.
In 2028, we will still be there, and we want you to continue with the sterling performances that we saw before, during and after the 2023 elections.
You are our comrades in arms, so we will not forget you, not at all.
Number three, the inevitable.
We would like you, our beloved Faz sidekicks, to appreciate the fact that, as it stands, we have run out of money.
That means, between now and 2028, chances of us doing any other projects with you are very slim to nil.
We will, of course, keep in touch with you. In the meantime, we wish you the best of luck. Pom, pom, pom! Meeting ends. Sagging shoulders. Long faces as the Faz primates troop out to look for transport to go back home.
Some came thinking gold would rain at the meetings, so are forced to beg for bus fare. This is exactly what happened at the Faz exit meetings.
Everyone knows by now what Faz is, but some quick throwback is in order.
Faz is the government-owned NGO—no acronyms please—that found life late last year. It sought to be affiliated to Zanu PF but, as it says from its own mouth, its application is still pending.
That’s of no consequence, of course.
Because, as you know already, Faz became affiliated to Zanu PF in practice and spirit. In fact, it became more Zanu PF than Zanu PF. Its main mandate was to campaign for a Mnangagwa win, by any means necessary.
I say it’s a government-owned NGO for one obvious reason.
It was funded from state coffers and coordinated by CIO, meaning that it carried out its operations courtesy of a state institution.
It recruited some 6 000 volunteers from across the country to do the dirty campaign work. Forget the big lie that almost all the election observer missions told when they said the elections were calm and peaceful.
The truth is that Faz was part of a sponsored machinery that carried out terror campaigns throughout the 2023 election cycle.
Faz recruits assaulted, intimidated, abducted and displaced innocent citizens in the name of securing a victory for President Mnangagwa, especially.
It profiled and targeted opposition supporters, agents and candidates.
It hounded people out of their homes and lots of the victims ended up in safe houses or medical facilities, maimed and haunted. As they did this, their main beneficiary, Mnangagwa was doing the sounds and optics, urging peace in our elections.
Like the fibbing election observer missions, he also claimed on several occasions that there was peace in the run-up to, during and after the polls.
But the V11s are there. There was widespread violence that was produced by this Faz thing.
The saddest thing is that the majority of the 6 000 or so Faz recruits were young people. Young men and women.
They were used as terror tools to victimise their own relatives, friends, former school mates, village mates, ghetto buddies and sundry. Here is the thing. You didn’t see a single youth from Borrowdale or Chisipite getting involved in the Faz shenanigans.
They were all from Epworth, Mbare, Hopley, Chitungwiza and the rural hinterland.
In other words, Zanu PF, state intelligence and Faz weaponised poverty to facilitate a Mnangagwa victory. They took advantage of the jobless youths.
Those youth, naturally, expected good things out of the Faz project.
They were promised money, jobs, houses and all the other sky pies.
It’s difficult to dismiss such false promises when you are that young, have high ambitions, but nothing to do or get in your ordinary life.
Fine, the youths got some semblance of a wage—about US$340 a month—at one time. Not even a teacher with a post-graduate degree was earning that much.
All you had to was to just find a log or machete, use it on someone and set his or her house ablaze.
But chickens have come back home to roost. The campaigns are over, Zanu PF and Mnangagwa have won, albeit sorely controversially, and it’s back to ground zero.
The volunteers are still owed long months’ salaries. They were paid for only three or so months if I’m not mistaken. Out of a possible 11 or 12 months.
They had hoped to get income-generating projects, jobs as CIO informers, jobs as teachers and community workers, pieces of land to farm, land to build houses on and what not. All that is Disney stuff now.
They will have to go back to face the communities on their own.
Every day, they will have to endure the reality of seeing Jack or Jane limping in the streets, courtesy of their handiwork.
They will be hated by their own kith and kin. They will be hungry, perhaps hungrier than before.
They will be haunted by the memories of the gruesome things that they did. I hear that one of them committed suicide.
It’s just that, for the Ama2k who were enlisted, their memories may not stretch far enough. Over the decades — right from the days prior to independence — Zanu PF has used youths as terror tools.
Ninety nine point nine nine percent of the pawns have not managed to show anything for their troubles.
You saw what happened after the 2008 Win or War campaign when youths were given bottles of opaque beer to maim and murder so as to retain Robert Mugabe in power during the run-off against Morgan Tsvangirai.
If you noticed, there was a wave of mad young men in our streets some time from late 2008.
You still see them today, toyi-toying in the streets, pretending to be doing roadblocks as they did during the 2008 run-off campaigns, chanting Zanu PF slogans and saying all that rubbish that mad people say.
Predictably, Faz itself will decompose. It will sink into oblivion because the power mongers don’t need it anymore.
Meanwhile, the very dude they sacrificed their souls for is back in office. He is that bloke who is wasting no time to return to the eating table. He will keep looking for money, corrupt money, and grow fat on it.
He will eat with his wife, children, nephews and all the cronies that he has surrounded himself with but who can hardly spell the word Faz.
And you, you will just be hearing about feast after feast. Very, very soon, Mnangagwa will not even be remembering what the name Faz stands for.
Even house helpers don’t worry too much about the floor rag. Once the floor is clean and the rag is dirty, it goes to the bin or somewhere outside the house.
The Faz leaders and handlers who sent the recruits on the grisly errands will take away all the off- terrain vehicles to their backyards.
They will mop up whatever is left of the taxpayers’ money they were given. They will grow very fatter on that account. Some of them will actually get promotions at work.
That’s the vicious cycle. You get used and you get dumped.
There is a promise of more work for the recruits in 2028, but that’s a long way coming. There is no guarantee that the politicians will need Faz recruits then.
This was a Mnangagwa project, and that chap will be on his way out by then, if he doesn’t, somehow, change the constitution for a third term or something like that.
But, whatever the case, many youths will be unemployed even by then. Many people will still be poor. And these politicians will seek to use them in one way or another, because of their vulnerability.
*Tawanda Majoni writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted on email@example.com.