THE optimistic opposition has rubbished findings of a research conducted by a local think-tank that their approval ratings within the voting population has plummeted, while President Robert Mugabe’s popularity has surged, saying only next year’s elections will disprove the findings.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
The survey, released last week, was conducted by the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) for Afrobarometer.
The research showed that Zanu PF could romp to victory next year with a comfortable margin to avoid a rerun.
However, MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said although they respected the findings, the political situation in the country was unique and clouded with fear, hence the findings would “totally be proven wrong”.
“People of Zimbabwe should applaud the research, but the Zimbabwean situation is unique. We are dealing with a unique situation, especially in rural areas, where there is a culture of fear,” Gutu said.
“The majority of people tend to support Zanu PF when approached by strangers owing to past experiences with politically-motivated violence.”
He said there was no way Zanu PF could win against a united opposition.
“We are confident that we are going to win and (MDC-T leader) Morgan Tsvangirai is going to be the next President. There is absolutely no doubt on that. If you look at Zanu PF, it is so catastrophically fractured and factionalised,” he said.
Gutu said the recently-held Zanu PF internal elections in Masvingo where one candidate ended up withdrawing citing electoral irregularities should be an eye opener that the party thrives on stealing.
The research, which concluded the public trusted Mugabe 64% more than they do opposition parties, was conducted on a sample size of 1 200 people drawn from both rural and urban areas.
According to the findings, 32% trust the opposition a lot, 21% just a bit while 36% don’t trust the opposition at all. A majority of adult Zimbabweans (60%) think that the country is heading in the wrong direction, according to the research.
The research further added that a majority (63%) is unhappy about the country’s economic condition and almost half (48%) of the adult population thinks that the situation is worse than it was 12 months ago while a majority (56%) is not also not satisfied with their own present personal living conditions.
MDC spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi dismissed the findings, saying the research was depending on people who are not objective.
“In politics, we are not always guided by academic processes done by research organisations. The findings are misleading and way off the mark. The people are all singing the ‘Zanu PF must fall’ hymn because they are fed up with the Zanu PF administration. Our party has a new game plan for the next match that will turn the tables,” he said.
PDP’s Jacob Mafume said: “We will learn from it. We will study it and see how we can improve on the shortcomings we have seen.”
Activist Farai Maguwu said the survey results were a mix of extreme contradictions indicating the people interviewed had no clear understanding of how a country functions.
“For instance, if they say three-fifths of Zimbabweans feel that the country is going in the wrong direction and then two-thirds of the same population trust the very same Mugabe, who is driving the country in the direction they are not satisfied with, then there is a problem with either the respondents who didn’t understand the questions clearly or the researchers who could have been biased or something else or both.”
However, political analyst Edred Masunungure said Zanu PF’s popularity in the report depended on whether the party has a viable competitor.
“This might be a reflection of lack of an alternative. The people might be saying: What do we have to do outside Zanu PF? The MDC is not as strong and as robust as before. The people are disillusioned by the opposition party and now the onus is on the opposition to strengthen their organisation and excite the voters to say here were are as an alternative,” he said.
He said the mushrooming of opposition parties was another cause for concern. Masunungure said if nothing was done timeously by the opposition to correct its deficiencies, Zanu PF could easily romp to victory.
He said a lot of people were sitting on the fence and perhaps the opposition might be able to woo them if it gets more organised and visible.
The report also showed strong approval ratings for religious leaders, non-governmental organisationss, army and courts of law.
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority joined the opposition on the least trusted. The survey also indicated that the majority of the adult Zimbabwean population do not think that bond notes will help ease Zimbabwe’s economic problems.