Fear won’t affect voters’ choices—RAU

Although there is still fear among Zimbabweans with regards to elections, it will not affect which party Zimbabweans will vote for in the next elections or whether the people will go out and vote.

According to the latest report by the Research and Advocacy Unit, fear made people claim support for one party or another, when in fact, they did not. RAU said the two recent reports on the political situation in Zimbabwe by Freedom House and Afrobarometer were misleading.

The RAU report said the voter apathy experienced in the last elections in the country was not necessarily as a result of fear, as other factors also came into effect. “Fear (or its absence) measured by opinion poll does not necessarily translate into votes, as the Afrobarometer report rightly states.

Opinions must be triangulated against other factors. One factor is that it is unknown how many people did not vote that could vote, but we can speculate as we have done above.

“The other factor is the consistent reporting on the extent of political violence and intimidation by a wide number of different sources, and intuitively it can be concluded that this must affect voting read the report,” said RAU.

The report noted that a research done in 2010 on women indicated that although 78 percent of voters felt unsafe while 63 percent admitted they had been exposed to violence, 78 percent went on to vote in the 2008 elections.

“However, women voted despite being unsafe, or experiencing or witnessing violence, so fear was present but not a factor that stopped them voting. In 2010, 48 percent of women openly expressed support for MDC-T as opposed to only 9 percent for ZANU PF,” added the report.

It noted that it was impossible to talk about elections in Zimbabwe without mentioning violence, as the two worked hand in hand in the country.

RAU said while the Freedom House report concentrated on whether political support for Zanu PF and the MDC was waning or not, the issue was to explain why almost 47 percent of the citizens did not support any of the parties.

“It is the problem to explain why such large numbers of people will not express a preference for one party or another, why this has been the case for nearly a decade, and whether the ‘fear factor’ affects the crucial variable in political party support. Does it affect who citizens actually vote for?”

The report said it was difficult under the current situation in the country, where more than two million were believed to have left, to tell how many were eligible to vote and how many had registered.

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