Wake up call for MDC-T
Both the recent Mass Public Opinion Institute polls on the political
situation in Zimbabwe indicate that the former ruling political party, Zanu
(PF) is slowly regaining its former glory or popularity among Zimbabweans
while the MDC-T seems to be losing ground. In this briefing, I wish to give
my personal appreciation of what is going on and what it may mean to
political players from both sides of the ideological divide.
by John Makumbe
First, I must state categorically here that the results of both the Freedom
House survey and the Afrobarometer survey are authentic and highly credible.
MPOI is a serious outfit that has undertaken numerous surveys on various
issues of national governance in this country. It is entirely non-partisan
and does not hold a brief for any political grouping in this or any other
country. The results of the two surveys in question must therefore be taken
It must be borne in mind that the surveys were conducted during the period
of the inclusive government, when it is rather dangerous for people to be
frank and open about their political preferences, especially in terms of
their support for either Zanu (PF) or the MDC. This clearly explains why
there was such a huge percentage (47%) of respondents who would not disclose
their political preferences to the researchers in the Freedom House survey,
and some 22% in the Afrobarometer survey.
It is quite obvious that a huge chunk of both these percentages is likely to
support the MDC rather than Zanu (PF) come next elections. Zanu (PF) will be
fooling itself to think that the people of this country have suddenly had a
change of heart regarding their rejection of Mugabe and his party as
reflected in the March 2008 harmonised elections. It would equally be
foolhardy for the MDC to assume that both these percentages are necessarily
going to vote for them and their leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.
But there is a sense in which the MDC has brought this situation upon
itself. The inauguration of the inclusive government resulted in the MDC
pushing the majority of its key personnel and strategic drivers of the party
into the coalition government. This essentially left the party virtually
naked and vulnerable to lethargy and stagnation. In my view, the party went
into the corridors of power and abandoned the work in the streets.
People are found in the streets and not in the corridors of power. We have
all seen that, even though it was in the corridors of power, Zanu (PF) never
left the streets. Add to that the fact that the former liberation movement
also controls and abuses the state media to its advantage 24/7. The MDC will
be lucky to get any sensible mention in any of the numerous political
reports churned by the state media on a daily if not hourly basis.
These survey results do come at an appropriate time for the MDC since they
constitute a wake up call to get back into action by way of campaigning for
change and democracy. There is still plenty of time to vigorously engage the
people not to forget what they have endured under Mugabe and Zanu (PF) for
the past 33 years. The MDC must never assume that its demonstrated
popularity is a given, or that it cannot change over time. The party has to
work closely with the people on a regular basis if the results of the next
survey are to reflect the honest truth about the political situation in this