Caesar Zvayi Deputy Editor
WHILE some western countries have jumped onto the MDC-T band wagon of attributing the party’s dismal performance in the just-ended harmonised elections to alleged rigging by Zanu-PF, a look at voting patterns since 2002 and several surveys commissioned by western think-tanks and sections of the Western media reveals that the writing had long been on the wall for embattled MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.
A look at voting trends since the 2002 presidential election shows that 1,2 million is consistent with Mr Tsvangirai’s level of support as he amassed 1 258 401 (42 percent) votes to President Mugabe’s 1 685 212 (56.2 percent) in the 2002 poll; 1 195 562 (47.9 percent) to President Mugabe’s 1 079 730 (43.2 percent) votes in 2008; with his tally this year also hovering around the 1,2 million votes mark.
This year, President Mugabe garnered 2 110 434 (61.09 percent) of the vote, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai 1 172 349 (33.94 percent), Welshman Ncube 92 637 (2.68 percent), Dumiso Dabengwa 25 416 (0.74 percent), Kisinoti Mukwazhe 9 931 (0.29 percent).
As such President Mugabe’s 2,1 million tally is a logical galvanisation of the vote that was mobilised ahead of the 2008 run-off where Zanu-PF supporters who had been dissilusioned by the choice between him and Simba Makoni stayed away from the poll with those who showed up slicing a significant chunk of his vote to hand 207 470 (8,3 percent) of the vote to the Mavambo Kusile Dawn leader who claimed to be a Zanu-PF candidate.
International media, among them Reuters, the British paper The Guardian, CNN, New York Times and some western funded political think tanks predicted President Mugabe and Zanu-PF’s landslide victory way before the dates for the harmonised were announced. These international organisations highlighted the MDC-T’s waning support from 2012.
The leading American left wing magazine, Counterpunch, said Zimbabweans faced a simple choice at the polls, continue on the path of revolution and true independence espoused by Zanu-PF or regress to the counter-revolutionary politics of puppetry In the article titled .
CNN’s “Connect the World” anchor Becky Anderson put it to Mr Tsvangirai during an interview that reports emanating from Zimbabwe indicated that people were fed up with him.
The CNN’s perspective on Mr Tsvangirai’s political fortunes dovetailed with several recent surveys pointing to a Zanu-PF victory in the harmonised elections. MDC-T allies, among them the NCA, PTUZ, Zimbabwe Vigil, Sokwanele as well as the British paper, The Guardian, also gave the edge to Zanu-PF.
In the wake of his wife’s death in a car accident in 2009, Mr Tsvangirai’s bed-hopping hogged the headlines and spilled into the courts culminating in an abortive wedding to his customary wife, Ms Elizabeth Macheka.
Among the women Mr Tsvangirai was linked to were Loreta Nyathi from Bulawayo with whom he sired a son whom he initially refused to take responsibility for including refusing to obtain a birth certificate for him. He was also linked to another Bulawayo woman, Aquiline Pamberi, Locardia Karimatsenga and South African Nosipho Shilubane. Witwatersrand University analyst Susan Booysen who supervised the Freedom House survey last year was quoted in the American multinational media house — Bloomberg, as saying there was little chance of MDC-T springing an upset.
Booysen supervised the survey by Freedom House, a United States-based think-tank, in 2012 that found that support for MDC-T plummeted from 38 percent in 2010 to 19 percent, while support for Zanu-PF had grown to 31 percent, up from 17 percent, over the same period.
The survey results were contained in a report titled “Change and ‘New’
Politics in Zimbabwe” conducted by a local research institute, Mass Public Opinion Institute and said MDC-T support had fallen from 38 percent to 20 percent between 2010 and last year.
In contrast, the survey data pointed to Zanu-PF having experienced a growth in popular support, moving from 17 percent to 31 percent in the same period across all the country’s 10 provinces.
For example in Harare, MDC-T support declined from 50 percent in 2010 to 17 percent, while that for Zanu-PF rose from eight percent to 22 percent.
In Bulawayo, Zanu-PF increased its support from four percent to 15 percent, while that for MDC-T declined from 51 percent to 29 percent.
Zanu-PF’s support was premised on its clarity on policies such as land, indigenisation and its stand against foreign interference in Zimbabwe.
Fifty-two percent of the respondents also said they trusted Zanu-PF compared to 39 percent for MDC-T.
In September last year, a UK-based pro-MDC-T group, Zimbabwe Vigil, said the MDC-T was likely to lose the forthcoming harmonised elections because of rampant corruption within its top leadership, among other issues.
The Afro barometer survey, entitled “Voting Intentions in Zimbabwe: A Margin of Terror?”, also put Zanu-PF ahead of MDC-T.
It said 32 percent of the 2 400 Zimbabweans sampled said if an election had been called in July this year, they were going to vote for President Mugabe, while 31 percent would go with Mr Tsvangirai.
The survey further gave Professor Welshman Ncube, leader of the smaller formation of MDC a paltry one percent. Compared to the 2008 survey, the MDC-T plunged from the 57 percent support it enjoyed then to 31 percent while Zanu-PF ascended significantly from 10 percent to 31.
University of Zimbabwe law lecturer Professor Lovemore Madhuku also says the revolutionary party will win the plebiscite while the British paper, The Guardian, has predicted that President Mugabe and Zanu-PF will romp to victory in the harmonised elections. A non-governmental organisation that has been closely working with MDC-T has also acknowledged that Zanu-PF has better chances of winning the forthcoming elections.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition chairperson for the South African branch, Professor Brian Raftopolous said it was highly likely the revolutionary party would win.
He made the remarks at a Zimbabwe Elections Conference in South Africa last Saturday ahead of what the civil society linked to the MDC-T dubbed Feya Feya Campaign. The meeting was attended by civil society participants from the Sadc region, including representatives of Zimbabwe Diaspora civil society.