Zanu-PF’s popularity among Zimbabweans is increasing while that of its main rival, MDC-T, is plummeting, a survey commissioned by Freedom House, a US-based non-governmental organisation reveals.
The survey results are contained in a report titled “Change and ‘New’ Politics in Zimbabwe” commissioned by Freedom House.
A local research institute, Mass Public Opinion Institute, conducted the research on behalf of Freedom House.
In its executive summary, the NGO said MDC-T support had fallen from 38 percent to 20 percent between 2010 and this year.
“In terms of the declared survey-based support, it appears the MDC-T has been suffering, falling from 38 percent to 20 percent in the parliamentary vote from 2010 to 2012, in a period of approximately 18 months between the 2010 and 2012 Freedom House surveys.
“In contrast, the survey data points to Zanu-PF having experienced a growth in popular support, moving from 17 percent to 31 percent in the same period,” reads part of the report.
The findings of the report showed that Zanu-PF’s popularity increased across all the country’s 10 provinces since 2010 while that for MDC was waning.
For example in Harare, MDC-T support declined from 50 percent in 2010 to 17 percent, while that for Zanu-PF rose from eight percent to 22 percent.
In Bulawayo, Zanu-PF increased its support from four percent to 15 percent, while that for MDC-T declined from 51 percent to 29 percent.
The NGO noted that 47 percent of the respondents did not declare their voting intentions in the survey, citing secrecy reasons.
Zanu-PF’s support was premised on its clarity on policies such as land, indigenisation and foreign interference in Zimbabwe.
“The survey results clearly show that Zanu-PF has crafted for itself a number of effective election and party choice platforms.
“The MDC-T largely relies on its emphasis on change and to some extent civil liberties to achieve such platforms,” the report noted.
“The item on defending Zimbabwe against ‘foreign interference’ shows that this Zanu-PF battle cry finds resonance across the party and undeclared boundaries.”
Fifty-two percent of the respondents also said they trusted Zanu-PF compared to 39 percent for MDC-T.
“Zimbabweans in the Freedom House survey cautioned the MDC-T to recapture the popular imagination as agent of change.
“The survey suggested that the MDC-T has lost the edge that it had enjoyed over Zanu-PF,” added the report.
Zanu-PF spokesperson Cde Rugare Gumbo said the survey was a reflection of how the revolutionary party had served the people.
“The survey demonstrates the credibility of Zanu-PF policies, principles and history. We are a party oriented towards people. People are now beginning to realise that the MDC-T has no agenda,” said Cde Gumbo.
“It is externally funded and its interest is to please its master. People are beginning to see this for themselves.”
However, MDC-T spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora, sought to discredit the survey yesterday.
Addressing journalists at Harvest House, the party’s headquarters, Mr Mwonzora said in their view, the conditions under which the survey was carried out were difficult to rely upon due to the fact that they were of major fluidity.
He said given the margin of error acknowledged in the report, it was difficult to rely on it to gauge the opinion of Zimbabweans on their political choices.
“We note that a lot of people interviewed refused to disclose their political preferences.
“This is obviously for fear of intimidation and the violence they have been subjected to by Zanu-PF and its military junta.
“The margin of error fundamentally impugns the conclusion that can be derived from this report,” said Mr Mwonzora.
“The report is allegedly based on the sample of individuals drawn from rural areas and urban areas with the majority being from rural areas. Regrettably, the report does not distinguish between people in communal lands and people who were settled on commercial farms.”
He said it was a well-known fact that during the land reform programme, predominantly Zanu-PF supporters benefited from the programme.
On the issue of lack of clear cut programmes, Mr Mwonzora said they were currently conducting a two-day workshop (ending today) of the party’s standing committee that will enunciate its elections strategies.
“The MDC-T campaign strategy are going to be announced soon. You will see them, right now we are in a strategic retreat so you will see them,” he said.