Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa and his Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party would win next month’s Zimbabwean elections by a margin of between 8% and 9% – if the elections are free and fair – a new poll suggests.
The poll of 2,000 registered voters, conducted by a previously unknown Elite Africa Research in June, found that if the elections were held then, 47.6% of respondents would vote for Chamisa in the presidential poll, while 38.7% would vote for President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Similarly, the poll found that 47.7 % of respondents would vote for Chamisa’s CCC while 39.6% would vote for Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu-PF party in the parliamentary elections.
The presidential, parliamentary and local council elections are all scheduled to be held on 23 August.
Even if these poll results suggest Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF would lose a fair contest, they are still quite flattering to the ruling party and president.
The poll also found, by much wider margins, that Zimbabweans believe their country is heading in the wrong direction and that the economy is getting worse.
A large majority of 69.4% said they thought the country was heading in the wrong direction, while only 27.3% felt it was heading in the right direction. Their views of the economy were even more critical, as more than three-quarters – 77.5% – said they believed the economy was getting worse while fewer than one-fifth – 19.6% – felt it was getting better.
A total of 59.8% of the 2,000 citizens polled said they hoped for a new government after the elections, while only 37% said they hoped for the same government.
Also revealing were the answers to the question of whether the respondents felt strongly favourable, somewhat favourable, somewhat unfavourable or strongly unfavourable towards a list of political leaders and parties.
Chamisa emerged with a net positive score of 29.6%, while Mnangagwa’s score was a net negative of 2.6%.
Similarly, the CCC registered a net positive score of 28.6% while Zanu-PF scored a net negative of 2.7%. The net scores were derived by subtracting the unfavourable responses from the favourable responses for each leader or party.
These results taken together suggest a high level of discontent among Zimbabweans towards Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF, but also some reluctance, possibly anxiety, about replacing them with Chamisa and the CCC.
Oscar Mutinda, the founder and CEO of Elite Africa Research which did the survey, confirmed this. He said that in conversations with people during the survey, it emerged many felt that even if the current government was doing a bad job, they were not confident the opposition could do much better.
The survey results, if replicated on 23 August, would mean Zimbabweans would have to go to the polls again soon after, as no presidential candidate would have won more than 50% of votes in the first round. In that case, a second round of voting would have to be held between the top two candidates to ensure the winner gets more than 50% of the votes.
Mutinda explained that the sample of 2,000 was selected to replicate national demographics such as the proportions of urban and rural voters as well as the proportions of voters in the country’s provinces.