Defence forces chiefs are worried that people in G40 strongholds will likely vote for the opposition to spite President Emmerson Mnangagwa who took over through a military coup, a local think tank has said.
Zimbabwe Institute of Democracy (ZDI) executive director Pedzisayi Ruhanya said the military had now deployed in rural areas to gather intelligence on the mood of villagers following the ouster of former President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF's G40 faction in the November 2017 coup.
The allegation has since been denied by the defence forces.
Ruhanya told a press conference to launch a report titled 'Zanu PF Military Deterrence of the Village Vote: Perceptions on the 2018 Election Environment' that the deployments were mostly in Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland East provinces which were strongholds of the deposed G40 faction of Zanu PF.
He said contrary to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces spokesperson Overson Mugwisi assertions that the army was deployed on national duty, they were actually helping with campaigns for Zanu PF in the rural areas.
"They are concentrated on areas where there are people fired from Zanu PF, the G40. They are in Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central.
"That is where there is intensity because that is where Robert Mugabe, Joice Mujuru and Saviour Kasukuwere come from - the G40 kingpins; they are the most affected."
Ruhanya added; "The protests in 2017 were in Harare and not in Mhondoro, so this idea that Mugabe was removed by the people is a lie. Zanu PF people did not remove Mugabe; he was removed by the army.
"The army was deployed to understand the changing dynamics in rural areas and the army agrees there is deployment, but we differ on the reasons for deployment.
"There is no physical violence but psychological warfare, people are reminded of Gukurahundi and June 2008."
The ZDI director gave the example of Hurungwe constituency where he claimed villagers spoke of being followed by unknown people who would just park their vehicles at their houses or at places they frequented without saying anything to them.
According to the report, 67 percent of sampled respondents said at least five soldiers had been deployed in their communities while 100 percent of respondents in Mashonaland Central province said, at most, five soldiers had been spotted in their villages.
The survey revealed that the soldiers moved around carrying guns and other military equipment.