HARARE – If Zimbabwe were to hold its general election today, Zanu PF would win ahead of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) but it would fail to get the required majority and the election would go into a runoff.
This is according to recent results from an Afrobarometer survey in partnership with the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI), a Zimbabwean research institute that gauges public opinion on issues of governance and public concern.
The survey says Zanu PF would command 35% of the vote while CCC would receive 27%. This would set the stage for a presidential runoff since the law dictates that the winner should command 50% plus one vote of the electorate.
In 2008, Zanu PF was forced into an election runoff after the Movement for Democratic Change, led by the late Morgan Tsvangirai, received 47.9% of the vote and Zanu PF, under the late president Robert Mugabe, bagged 43.2%.
The survey indicates that CCC leader Nelson Chamisa is not as popular as he was this time last year. His popularity took a 5% knock. As the face of the CCC, Chamisa was more popular than the party. However, the survey says the gap between his popularity and that of his party has been reduced by 1%.
The survey also claims that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s popularity has been gradually waning post the November 2017 coup that ousted Mugabe, but his support base has strengthened by 5% since June last year.
A significant number of respondents refused to reveal their preferences for the parliamentary (26%) and presidential elections (27%).
While there’s some positive reflection for Zanu PF, the downside is that 85% of the respondents in both rural and urban centres were of the view that the government has failed the economy.
However, Mnangagwa does not agree with this view. Addressing Zanu PF supporters on Saturday in Magunje, Mashonaland West, he said the mining industry alone had grown four times since he came into power.
“We are close to $12 billion [R224 billion mining revenue] in spite of sanctions,” he told the crowd.
The survey said 59% of respondents feared being victims of political violence as the election campaign season enters the home stretch. There were numerous incidents of opposition activists and lawyers being attacked by suspected Zanu PF supporters last week.
The survey also found that there could be a high voter turnout this year.
Afrobarometer said unemployment took up 46% of the public’s concern, while 35% were concerned about the economy and 26% worried about infrastructure development.
Meanwhile, a Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) internal memo directing the police not to bar the opposition from holding rallies unless there were “valid reasons” was leaked to the public.
The CCC had six of its rallies, including its manifesto launch, banned in one week.
The manifesto launch rally was scheduled for Bindura on Sunday. After failing to get permission from the police, the party resorted to the courts, where the ban was upheld.
In a memo addressed to police commanders in charge of the elections, the deputy police commissioner-general’s office said: “Commanders should note that for elections to be deemed free, fair, peaceful and credible, the playing field should be reckoned as level. Hence the police actions should not discredit the electoral process.”
In previous elections, the ZRP, Zimbabwe National Army and Central Intelligence Organisation were seen as enablers of the ruling party.
This time around, however, the police commissioner-general reminded the police to “ensure that all the processes relating to elections are done peacefully and in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act”.
After the internal communication was leaked to the public, the police said “the leaked memorandum was a communication guide which was meant for police commanders, not for public or media consumption”.
The police said the person who leaked the memo to the public was “unruly” and that “the ZRP is now conducting investigations with the view of identifying the culprit and finding the motive behind.”