MDC dismisses report by US Freedom House

The mainstream MDC has dismissed the newly published research by US Freedom House which says that the party’s support base has plummeted.

Dubbed Change and ‘New’ Politics in Zimbabwe, the report was done by Mass Public Opinion Institute and supervised by Susan Booysen.

Addressing journalists on Wednesday Douglas Mwonzora, the party’s spokesperson, said the report was carried out under a tense environment, hence people were not speaking freely.

“The MDC reasserts that it is still the most popular party within Zimbabwe. That it has had a positive impact on the lives of the people of Zimbabwe since it formed the Inclusive Government can never be doubted. Given the margin of error acknowledged in the report it is difficult to rely entirely on it to gauge the opinion of the people of Zimbabwe on their political choices,” he said.

According to the report, “it appears the MDC‐T has been suffering a decline in support, falling from 38% to 20% in the parliamentary vote from 2010 to 2012, in a period of approximately 18 months between the 2010 and 2012 Freedom House surveys.”

Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya said: “The research is e-historical in the sense that it doesn’t look at the contextual framework under which that research took place. It was conducted under a post-traumatic political environment in which citizens where not open enough where still nursing political injuries associated with the election in which Mugabe allegedly worn under conditions of repression.

“People were not free to openly declare their political preferences so what Freedom House got was the opposite of the reality they must turn it upside down and the opposite of that report is the truth,” Ruhanya said.

“In contrast, the survey data point to ZANU‐PF having experienced a growth in popular support, moving from 17% to 31% in the same period. It is essential to bear in mind that a total of 47% of the respondents did not declare their voting intention in this 2012 survey,” reads part of the report.

The report says 52% of the respondents say that they trust ZANU‐PF or trust it a lot; the corresponding percentage for the MDC‐T only comes to 39%. The survey sampled 1,198 people.

According to the report the drop in declared support for the MDC‐T, compared with previous surveys, is a vexing issue.

“Land, indigenisation, foreign interference in Zimbabwe and especially liberation from colonialism do differentiate. The survey results clearly show that ZANU‐PF has crafted itself a number of effective election and party choice platforms. The MDC‐T largely relies on its emphasis on change, and to some extent on civil liberties,” reads part of the report.

The report says in 2010 63% of the MDC‐T support base was in the rural areas (and 37% urban). In2012 it had become 59% rural and 41% urban. The gap has also been closing for ZANU‐PF, which emerged as 77% rural in 2012 (down proportionately from the 89% of 2010).

This change, the report says, could be related to former and largely urban MDC supporters now declaring backing for ZANU‐PF.

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