Mugabe unpopular with most: Gallup

President Robert Mugabe is one of the least popular leaders in Africa and is ranked lowly by his own people, according to a 2011 poll by the internationally esteemed Gallup World organisation.


Mugabe, Zanu (PF)’s First Secretary, is the party’s chosen candidate in the next general election, which he insists should be held this year despite strong local and international opposition. Gallup’s survey puts Mugabe third from the bottom on a list of 34 countries. Only Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and Angola’s Eduardo dos Santos, who came last, are worse than him.

Only 36% of the Zimbabwean population approves of Mugabe’s leadership, according to Gallup – a distant rating from the 81% enjoyed by Botswana’s Ian Khama, who is the most popular leader in southern Africa.

In Botswana, only 19% of the population disapproved of Khama’s leadership, while 73% gave the overall leadership the thumbs up.

“The President’s and Country Leadership ratings are the highest among surveyed countries in the SADC region, as well as being well above both the African and global average,” said Jeff Ramsay, the Botswana government spokesperson.

The annual survey, done through face-to-face interviews with citizens of the respective countries, determines popularity of national and institutional leaders of countries around the globe and sampled 142 countries.

While “the state of the local economy does have an influence on Africans’ assessments of their country’s leader, other factors are also at play” says Gallup.

In the majority of African countries, the rating of the heads of state was proportional to that of the national leadership, but, says Gallup, Zimbabwe was different.

The national leadership represented by top officials in the coalition government set up in early 2009 as a compromise between Zanu (PF) and the two MDC formations, performed better than Mugabe.

Even though in Africa people tend to rate their head of state’s performance more highly than they rate that of the country’s general leadership, Zimbabwe is different, according to the survey findings.

“Zimbabwean residents give higher marks to the country’s general leadership than to the president. This suggests that they credit improvements in their lives more to the actions of the broader unity government in fighting hyperinflation than those of their head of state,’’ said Gallup.

Gallup says 43% of the adult population are unlikely to view Mugabe as a popular leader in the future, preferring the overall leadership instead, while those that would still approve him remained at 36%.

“Governance issues, such as the honesty of elections and the judicial system, seem to matter much more in the eyes of most Africans. Other factors, such as political apathy, may play a role as many may not be interested in political affairs and tacitly approve of their leader’s performance,” said Gallup.

Poll findings

Approve %

Botswana – Ian khama 81

Moz – Armando Guebuza 64

Mauritius – Navin Ramgoolam 67

Kenya – Mwai Kibaki 62

Swaziland – King Mswati III 56

Zambia – Rupiah Banda* 47

DRC – Joseph Kabila 43

Malawi – Bingu wa Mutharika* 36

Zimbabwe – Robert Mugabe 36

Senegal – Abdulaye Wade* 30

Angola – Eduardo dos Santos 16

*No longer in office

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