Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF has more support than rival’s party
Zimbabweans now support Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF in greater numbers than his
rival Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, according to a new
By Peta Thornycroft and Aislinn Laing in Johannesburg
The respected Mass Public Opinion Institute in Harare based its findings on
interviews around the country over June and July this year. It claims that
support for the 13-year-old MDC has dropped from 38 per cent to 20 per cent
over the past 18 months, while the popularity of Zanu PF, which led
Zimbabwe’s liberation in 1980, surged from 17 per cent to 31 per cent in the
A previous survey by the MPOI carried out in 2009 put support for Zanu PF at
between eight and 10 per cent and for the MDC at 57 per cent.
The results will prove unsettling for many in Zimbabwe and the West who
believe that Mr Tsvangirai and the MDC stand a good chance of winning
presidential and parliamentary elections slated for next year, bringing an
end to the tyrannical Mr Mugabe’s 32-year rule.
Analysts say they reflect a growing disenchantment with the MDC to effect
real change since it took power as part of a coalition with Zanu PF
following disputed elections in 2008.
They say it also reflects the popularity of Zanu PF’s campaign to indigenise
foreign-owned mines and banks and the transferal of white-owned land to
hundreds of thousands of poor blacks following violent seizures which
started in 2000.
Susan Booysen, a senior political scientist from the University of the
Witwatersrand who led the survey, said 47 per cent of the 1,198 people
polled in 100 areas did not want to share their political leanings.
But she stressed that they had been clear from other questions they
responded to, adding that the “undeclared category does not veil a
systematic party orientation. Rather, should these persons vote in a next
election, their support is likely to be diffused across party categories.”
She said that the MDC had been damaged by joining in coalition with Zanu PF,
a move which had exposed political infighting and corruption among some of
She said that many would be shocked by the results. “Nevertheless this
information cannot be ignored,” she added.
Ibbo Mandaza, a Zimbabwean academic and publisher, said the MDC’s “main
card” had always been “the anti-Mugabe card”.
“Now they are working with Mugabe, and working under him in the inclusive
government,” he said. “Nowadays there is a thin line between the parties as
there is national convergence on many issues.”
David Moore, a Zimbabwe political scientist at the University of
Johannesburg, said voters were disenchanted by the MDC’s record in power and
still fearful of renewed violence should they vote for them. “People may
well be asking: ‘Why risk our lives to vote for a party that’s not that
different from ZANU-PF?’,” he said.
Rugare Gumbo, a spokesman for Zanu PF, said that it confirmed their own view
of the MDC. “We are dealing with a party which has no programmes, people see
it as a shell organisation,” he said. “People are supporting us largely for
our empowerment programmes and principals.”
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the survey was “meaningless” since people
had evidently been afraid to express their real views.
“How do you do a research or survey in an environment of fear and violence?
Our support is not fading,” he told Harare newspaper, The Daily News.
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