ZIMBABWE – Results of a new survey conducted by the Mass Public Opinion Institute indicate that President Robert Mugabe is the second most trusted person in Zimbabwe.
According to the survey, religious leaders, with support from 70 percent of the polled adults, are the most trusted people in the country.
The social-economic and political survey shows that 62 percent of those polled in all the country’s 10 provinces, say they trust Mr. Mugabe and would vote for him if fresh elections were to be called.
Conducted between 8 and 16 July this year, the survey, with 1,200 adult Zimbabwean respondents, also showed that a majority of Zimbabweans also parliament and their local government councils while trust was low for the police, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
Support for the opposition political parties was also low with 52 percent saying they did not trust the opposition and its leaders.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the founding president of the Movement for Democratic Change, is the third most trusted person in the country with former deputy president, Joyce Mujuru coming in fourth. Tendai Biti of the People’s Democratic Party was fifth and Simba Makoni of the Dawn/Kusile Dawn party sixth. Other opposition leaders like Welshman Ncube, Dumiso Dabengwa and Lovemore Madhuku got less than 10 percent support.
But despite showing support for Mr. Mugabe, a majority of Zimbabweans, at 67 percent, said the country is going in the wrong direction and 90 percent said they feared criticizing the president, Zanu PF, the police or the army.
For some struggling Zimbabweans, like Vivid Gwede, who attended the event where the survey results were released, the results are puzzling.
Gwede said, “I think the findings reveal a very complex situation, you know when they are saying the country is going the wrong direction, corruption is rising but they went on to say that they trust the same leadership that is presiding over such as situation. To me it shows that there is a lot to be discovered in this whole situation.”
He noted that the findings are confusing, especially since President Mugabe is the leader of the country and has failed to steer the ship from troubled waters as the economy continues to slide on his watch.
Gwede said it appears those polled for some reason are not linking their suffering to Mr. Mugabe’s leadership.
Another local resident, Owen Dhliwayo, said it’s not surprising that Mr. Mugabe is still getting the support of ordinary Zimbabweans because, “he has managed to build a reputation as a good leader, especially among the country’s adult population.”
According to the survey, the respondents think that he is above all the challenges that Zimbabweans are facing and the MPOI report has also pointed out that people fear to criticize the president and they now think that all these challenges are not aligned to his leadership style, policies or even his pronouncements.
Political commentator Fortune Gwaze said the research findings are not surprising given that Zanu PF owns the means of production in the country. To secure even a market stall or a mining license, he said, one needs to have some form of association with Zanu PF.
“So this economic recession is increasing the patron client relationship between the electorate and Zanu and the high levels of trust that people have in the president,” he said.
The latest findings are not very different from previous MPOI surveys which have seen Mr. Mugabe lead his opponents in popularity contests.
The other key findings of the survey were that 53 percent of adult Zimbabweans did not have a job that pays cash income and that 81 percent say the informal sector is sustaining the country’s economy and should be maintained.
Sixty-six percent said they were more likely to take bribes. They cited the need for money to survive as the major driver of corruption.