THE next elections will likely be a closely fought contest with President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party marginally edging Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T, a new survey has suggested.
Zimbabwe is set to hold fresh elections later this year to end the uneasy coalition between Mugabe and Tsvangirai which was formed after violent but inconclusive elections in 2008.
And a survey carried out in November last year by the Harare-based Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) has suggested that Mugabe, who has been in power since independence in 1980, would marginally edge the contest.
Revealing the results Tuesday, MPOI researcher, Heather Koga, said Zanu PF would likely win the Parliamentary elections with 33 percent of the vote against 32 percent for the MDC-T.
“The survey results suggest that the forthcoming parliamentary elections will be a closely fought battle between Zanu PF (33%) and MDC-T (32%), while support for other political parties candidates such as Mavambo Kusile Dawn and ZAPU approach zero (to the nearest whole number) with the MDC (Ncube) seeming to be maintaining its 1% support level.”
Koga said about 30 percent of the 1,200 people interviewed had declined to reveal which parties they would vote for.
“It must be noted that from the whole number of people asked during the research 30% of the sample was not willing to reveal their political affiliation. Given this we are not sure which political party these people will vote for come the election day,” Koga told NewZimbabwe.com
MPOI also carried out another opinion survey for the United States-based Freedom House last year which suggested support for the MDC-T had collapsed from 38 percent in 2010 to 20 percent in 2012. By contrast, backing for Zanu PF was said to have increased to 31 percent from 17 percent, over the same period.
The Freedom House survey also suggested Mugabe would command the support of 31 percent of the presidential vote, compared to 19 percent for Tsvangirai, an alarming prospect for the MDC-T whose popularity stood at a healthy 55 percent no more than four years ago.
Zanu PF commentators however, dismissed the survey as an attempt by the MDC-T’s Western allies to shock the party out of a perceived complacency with the survey’s lead researcher, South African academic Susan Booysen, noting that: “Perhaps they (MDC-T) think they are crown prince that need only wait for Mugabe to go for it to fall in their lap. This is a wake-up call for them that there is no honeymoon.”
Tsvangirai said he would take note of the results and institute corrective action.
“We take not of some of the observations and will take corrective measures where they are necessary. We are a party that always looks at these issues constantly,” he said.
“We don’t take people for granted by the way we constantly review our performance in all departments.”
Meanwhile, Koga said the latest survey also showed that most Zimbabweans wanted new elections to end the coalition government.
“68 percent of Zimbabweans of voting age were of the view that the country is ready to hold elections,” she said.
“(Those) who said the country is not ready to hold elections by March 2013 suggested that the Inclusive government should continue indefinitely.
“The need to engage international observers (eg from SADC, UN, EU) to ensure free and fair elections in the country was also a major suggestion.”
The coalition administration is credited with easing political tensions and ending a decade-long economic crisis but further progress has been hampered by constant bickering and policy differences between the parties.
A constitutional referendum has been set for March 16, with elections expected later in the year although Tsvangirai suggested the polls may be held in July.