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How shadowy group FAZ was formed

by Staff reporter
31 May 2024 at 16:16hrs | Views
A new report has revealed that Asher Walter Tapfumaneyi, Deputy Director-General of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), and his close family members established the Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ) trust to support the ruling Zanu-PF party's campaign for the 2023 harmonized elections, spending US$23 million in the process.

The report, released by The Sentry, an investigative organization focused on disabling networks that benefit from conflict and corruption, indicates that FAZ's trustees and founders include Tapfumaneyi's family and associates, such as Tangisai Tapera, his key ally and former business partner in an oil deal with Iran.

Despite the findings, both Tapfumaneyi and FAZ deny any control by the CIO over the trust. However, The Sentry's investigation found that the main phone number for FAZ had previously been used by a CIO officer, suggesting a connection to the agency.

The report also detailed FAZ's expenditure of at least US$4 million on importing over 160 Toyota Hilux pickup trucks for Zanu-PF candidates, a substantial sum in Zimbabwean politics. This amount significantly surpassed the US$500,000 in public funding received by opposition parties.

FAZ declined to comment on whether their activities intimidated voters or influenced the electoral outcome in favor of Zanu-PF.

The Sentry's report highlighted that the CIO had significantly increased its spending before the elections, purchasing 780 vehicles worth US$23 million since January 2022. This amount nearly matched the US$25 million spent between 2016 and 2021. In the past, similar vehicles had been allegedly used to intimidate opposition supporters.

FAZ chairperson Kudakwashe Munsaka explained that the entity was a revival of a trust first established in 2010 with the support of the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs (MSPA) during the government of national unity, which included Zanu-PF leader Robert Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The MSPA was disbanded in 2014, leading to the temporary abandonment of the project until its revival in 2022.

The Sentry argues that while all parties deny the allegations, evidence points to connections with the CIO. The trust deeds for FAZ suggest links to Tapfumaneyi, who played a significant role in establishing the trust in 2010 and has longstanding ties with trustee Tapera. During the unity government, both the military and the CIO reportedly set up joint ventures to circumvent MDC control over finances.

The report also noted that Tapfumaneyi's son and wife are listed as FAZ founders and heads of local branches, respectively. Additionally, other trustees have close ties to Tapfumaneyi, further indicating a potential connection between the CIO and FAZ.

Tapfumaneyi denied any personal or official involvement with FAZ, stating that the allegations have no legal foundation. FAZ also refused to disclose its funders, citing privacy concerns of well-wishers.

The Sentry recommended that the government stop using state resources to benefit Zanu-PF and called for updates to electoral laws to limit campaign expenditures. The report urged banks and businesses working with FAZ to conduct enhanced due diligence in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Source - newsday