PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is the most popular among the country’s public officials and institutions, a research conducted by Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) has found.
According to the survey which was commissioned by Afrobarometer in November last year and was disseminated to members of the civil society, politicians, diplomats and the media in Harare on Tuesday, 63% of the surveyed people said they trusted Mugabe more than any other public official and institution.
The survey randomly sampled 1200 people from all the country’s ten provinces. During the survey, a question was asked: “How much do you trust each of the following, or have not heard enough about them to say?”.
Among the public institutions which MPOI gauged public opinion on, together with President Mugabe included the ZRP, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), Zimbabwe National Army, opposition political parties, Parliament and local government councils.
The survey found that Mugabe enjoys greater support in the rural areas where 70% trust him while he only enjoys 45% trust of the urban people. By gender, 62% of males trust him, while he is trusted by 64% of the women. An additional statistic is that 54% of Zimbabweans trust his party, Zanu PF.
The survey also found that the opposition parties were the least supported institutions, trusted by only 34% of Zimbabweans. Even institutions such as the Zimbabwe National Army, ZRP, ZEC and Zimra were found to be enjoying better support than the opposition parties.
This is despite the fact a few years ago, the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa found Zimbabwe’s traffic cops to be the most corrupt in the region while two years ago Afrobarometer found that Zimbabwe was the third most corrupt country in Africa after leaders Nigeria and Egypt.
Commenting on the latest survey on his blog, UK-based academic Alex Magaisa wrote:
“This has to be the grimmest statistic for the opposition leaders and their parties because it suggests that even without Zanu PF, they would still not be trusted by the people.
“Here serious questions must be asked why this is the case. It is not useful to bury heads in the sand. One would expect that, with its litany of failures, the opposition parties would fare better than Zanu PF. But this survey suggests they enjoy a 20% margin of trust ahead of their opposition rivals.
Is it that these people see Zanu PF as a better devil? Is it that the fights and splits in the opposition have reduced levels of confidence in the opposition? Does it say that Zimbabweans do not see the opposition parties as a viable alternative to Zanu PF despite its failures? These are hard questions which these grim statistics command us to confront”.
Religious institutions and leaders were found to be the second most trusted with 80% of the rural people and 66% of the urban dwellers favoring them.
Wrote Magaisa: “This is a serious indictment on politicians, in that they have lost trust among the people most of whom prefer to invest their trust in religious leaders. This is consistent with the popular support of churches and the rise of charismatic church leaders in the Pentecostal Movement, whose gatherings far outnumber that of politicians.”
Commenting on the overall outcome of research he said: “Zimbabwe is an interesting country, where, very often, what appear to be popular perceptions do not always tally with the actual realities on the ground.
To many people who are reading this and who think they know better, the results of the Afrobarometer survey will shock them and they will probably dismiss them outright. But they should listen more, rather than assume the defensive mode and thereby dismiss the survey results. That would be careless.
Since this survey was done by respected and reputable research organisations, naturally, it commands attention and respect. And lest we forget, the last time these two carried out a similar survey, back in 2012, they were dismissed in some quarters, especially in the opposition, but this attitude was not helpful. The outcome of their survey seemed to back the outcome of July 31. Either they were closer to the truth or they were part of a grand conspiracy, though I think the latter suggestion would be churlish.”
But a man thought to have been an opposition sympathizer and who was part of the delegates invited to witness the launch of the survey, objected to the results saying “they help Zanu PF to rig elections”.
To MPOI officials he said angrily: “Remember that your previous research which was commissioned by Freedom House just before elections was used by Zanu PF to rig the election.”
Principal researcher Stephen Ndoma said when they are conducting researches they do not ask reasons why one would have chosen to give the response he or she would have given.
“It is a norm that when asking questions during our researches that we do not further probe why one has decided to give such a response.
“However we capture everything we would have observed during the interviews but we confine ourselves to structured questions,” said Ndo