Interviews reveal Zanu election strategy

August 25, 2011 at 8:59 am Leave a comment

The following are extracts from the interview transcripts. Locations and
other identifiers have been removed for the safety of the interviewees.

by The Zimbabwean Harare

Central Intelligence Organisation member No 2

ZDN: What is the most important factor in the election?

2: Militia

ZDN: Why the youth militia?

2: You know they are no longer in uniform, but they are still ours. So they
are in shops, in the beer halls, at the school, in the (soccer) teams. There
is no work outside town so if Zanu is not your boss, there is no way to get
a salary. Away from the city, anyone who has money in his pocket is with the

ZDN: That still doesn’t explain why they are so important?

2: Army come and they go back to base. Police can patrol and go back to
station. In all forces, staff go on leave or can be deployed (elsewhere) or
get another job.

Militia live in the village. They sleep there, even in your hut if they are
from your family. They are with you every day and they know all secrets. But
they don’t belong to the village, they belong to ZANU and even the chief
cannot command them.

ZDN: How are the militia being paid?

2: It can be with cash from Zanu, it can be with food or they can take goods
when the house of a sell-out is taken (attacked).

ZDN: But that doesn’t explain why you think the militia is Zanu’s most
important weapon.

2: They will do anything. They can be told to beat people or to be nice.
They can burn your house or take your cattle and there is nothing you can
do. And they are not on the (state) payroll.

If army is deployed to Mutoko there must be paperwork and vehicles and
supplies and must be written down. ‘Bombers are not like that. They are
private to ZANU, and not even parliament can find evidence because there is
no paperwork. So (Prime Minister Morgan) Tsvangirai can say they are doing
this or that and (President Robert) Mugabe can deny and it ends there.

CIO interview No 5

ZDN: What is the most important factor in the election?

5: People can support anyone in rural areas, but they will vote for Zanu.

ZDN: How can you be so sure?

5: MDC visit outside Harare but Zanu live there. We have the police and army
and the militia and sources (informers). The structures of state report to
Zanu, not MDC, so it is not so difficult to control.

ZDN: Is fear the main factor in how people will vote?

5: Not fear as such. Zanu has spent more than two years making sure they don’t
have another 08 (election loss of 2008) but MDC is yet to start.

This thing Zanu has done is not a campaign as such, but a change in how life
goes in rural areas. The militia are there, Zanu have road blocks, they
control food and they use the police and army when they like. MDC has none
of these.

Youth Militia No 51

[Conducted in a mix of English and Shona]

The witness explained how ’Bombers’ broke up meetings and then took the MDC
youth leaders back to camp.

ZDN: What happened when you arrived with them at your camp?

51: Our first order was to take them to the commander. He would interview
them for intelligence. Most were very scared and they took part

ZDN: Did anyone not “take part”?

51: It happened. There were cages at the camp. One type is tall but thin so
you can only stand, no sitting down. The other is terrible because it is
like a square and you can’t stand and you can’t sit. You are just half way.

Those who refused were put in the cages. The minimum is four days. Even
after one day if you cry to join the Bombers you will be refused. You must
do four days and if you are still not ready then another four days.

Every time someone passes the cage he must bang on it. Even at night those
who are on (guard) duty bang on the cage with a piece of steel when they
walk past.

Also the prisoners are thrown with cold water all the time. Sometimes a man
will shit in a bucket and mix with water like soup and then throw it on the
prisoner. Any person who spends (time) in the small cage would join Zanu.

ZDN: Did anyone make it past four days?

51: Yes, one woman did eleven.

ZDN: But you said it was only in multiples of four.

51: She died in the cage.

ZDN: And these people who came out, did they become Bombers?

51: Some of those who we caught from MDC ended as the most cruel. They were
more than us in hating their friends. I think maybe that cage makes you mad
because some ended as the worst for torture and fighting against MDC.

Youth Militia No 37

[approximate translation from Shona]

ZDN: You are a junior commander so do you keep notes on what you are doing?

37: There are notes. We have everything. Who is a Bomber. Where he or she
comes from. ID number. Discipline. And the books of people in the village.
We know who lives in every hut.

ZDN: Where do these papers go to?

37: They are kept by the Zanu structure in our area. Others go to

ZDN: Do any of these notes end up at a central depot in Harare?

37: I don’t think so.

ZDN: Why is that?

37: I think they don’t want a place where spies can find out.

ZDN: Spies from where?

37: Spies from MDC.

ZDN: But things like food, payments, items taken from an MDC house raided by
the militia? Are these written down?

37: No.

ZDN: What happens when people don’t want Zanu or the militia?

37: We will ask them what is the problem. Or we can have a meeting with that
village and the army.

ZDN: Does any violence take place?

37: If we can’t win by other means.

ZDN: What sort of violence?

37: Mostly beatings. Or we can burn somebody with charcoal or burn down his
hut. We can do anything.

ZDN: Does this make the person join you?

37: Many times they just run away from the village

ZDN: So what is the point?

37: It is important for others to see the punishment, so they know it can be
their turn if they leave Zanu.

ZDN: Does it work?

37: Of course.

ZDN: Who would you like to win the next election?

37: Zanu will win.

ZDN: But who would you like to see win?

37: I don’t care. I am not in this work for politics.

ZDN: Then why do you stay?

37: If you give me a job I will go with you now.

Youth Militia No 8

[Conducted in a mix of English and Ndebele]

The subject explained that he had been out of the militia for some time and
working in Bulawayo. Then he came home to a rural area in central Zimbabwe
because of a family illness and had to stay to look after his sick mother.
The only work was with the militia. His insight shows how little the average
member knows about overall strategy, and how surprise is used as a weapon.

ZDN: What did the Militia want you to do?

8: They did not tell us. We must just be ready.

ZDN: And how long did it take before the work was ready?

8: More than two weeks.

ZDN: Then what did they say?

8: We had to go to another area many kilometres away and sort those from
MDC. We had to walk.

ZDN: Did you know the village?

8: Until we were on the way, the commanders did not tell us (where it was.)

ZDN: Did that surprise you?

8: No. They can say we are going somewhere and after one hour on the road
they change and we are going another.

ZDN: Why do you think it’s like that?

8: Zanu is fearful all the time of spies. I think they know how bad is MDC
for losing (leaking) information and Zanu could be the same. So they are

ZDN: What happened when you reached the village?

8: We left our place by late afternoon and we arrived when the kids were
already sleeping and only some of the men were talking by the fire. We told
them to bring everybody from the huts.

ZDN: And then?

8: We left around 4am. All night they had to cook for us and sing (Zanu

ZDN: Why did they choose this village? CONT. ON P.10

8: We knew MDC was ready to start a branch.

ZDN: Was there violence?

8: Nothing. But they know that if we come again it will be a problem. People
brought some MDC shirts and put them on the fire. Also some posters that MDC
had left for the start (launch of the new branch).

ZDN: Do you think it scared people just to be made to burn some posters and

8: It scares them that we knew in what hut the shirts and posters are
staying. That we know names of people. We can come from the night anytime.
And police will do nothing and MDC will do nothing.

ZDN: How does this affect elections?

8: They know that if MDC wins we will come. We are not going anywhere.

ZDN: Who would you like to win the next election?

8: MDC would be better but for now my family is safe with Zanu.

Militia No 39

The subject had left the Militia in February 2011 and now works in
Francistown, Botswana, but has friends still within the system. He was with
the Youth Service from shortly after the 2008 election.

ZDN: What was your task over that time?

39: We were taking names house to house.

ZDN: What will Zanu do with this information?

39: At elections they must be the (only) people in our area. They don’t want
those from town … they support MDC. Our job is to deliver (our district) to

ZDN: And if people from town do come home to vote?

39: MDC youth in town have courage and they are willing, but their parents
are the ones to tell them (not to come home to vote). And those kids know if
we see them at election time, the mother or the father or the granny will
pay. So they will not come.

ZDN: Who would you like to win the next election?

39: If MDC can win I will be so happy. Maybe things can come better. In
Botswana we all support MDC. But at my home area it is difficult.

Police interview No 3

The subject is an inspector and, although now based in Harare, she was until
recently at a rural station.

ZDN: What is the most important factor in the next election?

3: Zanu are ready.

ZDN: Did you see evidence of this in the rural areas?

3: It is why you hear every week someone from Zanu saying we must have
elections this year. They are ready and they don’t want MDC to get time to

ZDN: What is the position of Zanu in the police? Surely every constable can’t
be loyal to the party.

3: We don’t discuss politics at work unless it is for Zanu because there is
always somebody listening. If you want your job, you must not be accused of
supporting MDC.

ZDN: What effect does this have?

3: I support MDC, but it is hard to build support for MDC in the police
because we are scared to talk. Even the friend you had since depot (basic
training) maybe 10 years ago can be a spy for Zanu.

ZDN: How do you rate the militia?

3: I feel sorry for them. I knew many and they don’t want to be there. But
there is no work outside town. The ones who are home are usually with few
years of schooling. Maybe the father died and there were no fees, but always
a story.

ZDN: If MDC tried to recruit the rural youth, could they do it?

3: I think it may be late, but the problem is MDC leave Harare for a day (to
visit a rural electorate) and they come home that night. To break from Zanu
you need to be sure your new party will stay with you all the time.

ZDN: It sounds like you blame MDC for how well Zanu has prepared itself.

3: No. Zanu has the services (police, army militia), and MDC is just a
party. If someone beats a Zanu member they go to jail. But other way round,
you can beat MDC and nothing happens.

ZDN: Do you have advice for MDC?

3: They don’t want to stay where there is no ZESA (electricity) and to sleep
on the floor. So they visit somewhere far in the bush and they rush to (be
back in) town that night.

ZDN: Could MDC set up their own militia?

3: The police would arrest them, so it is hard.

ZDN: What do you know about the hundreds of roadblocks in rural areas?

3: That is no secret. It is how Zanu will control the election.

ZDN: But when you pass through them the roadblocks don’t seem to have a
political message?

3: (laughs) Try to raise the MDC flag at one.

ZDN: What will happen at election time?

3: How I understand it is that even Zanu is not sure, but they want the
option of closing areas. And they will only need to do it for two or three

ZDN: And then?

3: All Zanu wants is to win. If that means road blocks, army, militia and
police, they will do it. They know what happened in 2008 and the party has
been planning. They also know it will be hard to beat up people in the city,
but there is no one to see what they are doing away from town.


3: When the president calls the election they will go back to opposition.


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