Lovemore Ranga Mataire Senior Reporter
THE majority of Zimbabweans approve of President Mugabe’s leadership despite the economic challenges faced by the country as a result of economic sanctions imposed by the West while trust and support for MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai continues to plummet, an international think tank has said.
A latest survey conducted by Afrobarometer – a pan-African research network – in partnership with the South African Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in Cape Town, concluded that despite viewing their personal living conditions as “fairly bad” or “very bad”, a majority of Zimbabweans were satisfied or approved of President Mugabe’s leadership.
“After going through a tough economic period between 2002-2008, the economy of Zimbabwe began to recover around end of 2008. This followed the political settlement in September 2008 resulting in a coalition Government of National Unity (GNU) and the adoption of the multi-currency regime,” a statement released by Afrobarometer reads.
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It states that between 2009 and 2011, Zimbabwe’s GDP growth averaged 7,3 percent, making it one of the world’s fastest growing economies at the time.
The survey shows that although four in 10 people in Zimbabwe expected the economic situation to deteriorate in 2015, close to six in 10 people (57 percent) believed that President Mugabe had performed well in the last 12 months.
The report also revealed that the approval rating for President Mugabe was stronger in rural areas among senior citizens and those with low levels of formal education.
Support for the ruling Zanu-PF party has remained unshakeable with Mashonaland Central province recording a massive 86 percent, Mashonaland West 78 percent while Bulawayo and Matabeleland provinces recorded a 34 percent endorsement.
MDC-T leader Mr Tsvangirai and his party recorded the least approval in all the provinces even in Bulawayo and Matabeleland provinces which are the MDC-T’s perceived strongholds.
Five rounds of surveys were conducted between 1999 and 2013, and round six surveys were currently being finalised for the period 2014-2015).
The surveys are conducted through face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice with nationally representative samples of between 1 200 and 2 400 respondents.
The survey in Zimbabwe was conducted by the Mass Public Opinion Institute, which interviewed 2 400 adult Zimbabweans in November 2014.
Another related survey conducted between 2009 and 2014 also revealed that most Zimbabweans had more trust in President Mugabe than any other leaders.
“As one would expect, President Robert Mugabe attracts high trust levels in rural communities, from supporters of the ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union
Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF), and in the provinces where the ruling party holds majority share,” the report says.
It states that a majority of Zimbabweans – 63 percent – said they trusted their President “somewhat” or “a lot”.
Afrobarometer says the survey shows a significant increase in trust levels in President Mugabe since 2009 to 2014.
Key findings of the survey include the fact that large majorities in provinces historically known to support Zanu-PF registered high levels of trust in President Mugabe with Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West recording an 81 percent support rate.
The support for President Mugabe was, however, subdued in some opposition parties’ strongholds of Bulawayo, Harare and Matabeleland South.
Five rounds of surveys were conducted between 1999 and 2013 while round six surveys of between 2014 and 2015 are currently being finalised.
Respondents were asked questions about the economic conditions of this country, their own present living conditions and their predictions of the economic outlook.