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Zimbabweans want democracy and "honest elections": Afrobarometer

The Afrobarometer survey results have confirmed that most Zimbabweans regardless of their political affiliation, social status, level of education, or the province from which they come from want democracy, and feel that the democratization process in the country must be deepened.

Afrobarometer survey results were publicized at the 4th Dissemination Meeting of the Afrobarometer Zimbabwe Survey Round 5, organised by the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI), held at the Holiday Inn in Harare on Tuesday 27th November 2012. The results resonate with the position of Zimbabwean CSOs who have been thirsting and toiling for democracy.

Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI), which does the research work on behalf of Afrobarometer in Zimbabwe, was having its fourth and last dissemination meeting to publicise its findings. The Zimbabwe Round 5 Survey ran from 2011 to 2012, and was concluded at the end of August 2012. The dissemination meeting was attended by CSOs, academics, political parties, the media, and members of the Zimbabwean public.

The Afrobarometer is a series of continent wide comparative surveys done in 35 African countries by a network of African based researchers to investigate and record the perspectives of citizens of each surveyed country on democracy, good governance, the economy, leadership, identity, and other related issues.

The topics covered in the survey include the perspectives of the Zimbabweans on transitional justice, level of satisfaction with democracy, support for democracy, choosing leaders through elections versus other means, indigenization, devolution, citizenship, past and present economic conditions, future projection of the economy, overall direction of the country, and incidence of lived poverty.

Of the Zimbabweans who were interviewed in the Afrobarometer survey, 66% are more convinced that the country is not yet a democracy as contrasted with the lower percentage of citizens who think the same thing of their own country in other 12 African countries in which the Afrobarometer survey has been completed. The question was asked:

"In your opinion, how much of a democracy is Zimbabwe today".

The survey results which were publicised by MPOI expose that:

""¦in the main, the majority of the respondents are of the opinion that Zimbabwe is not a democracy or that it is a democracy but with major problems."

Afrobameter survey also revelead that 79% of those interviewed were in support of democracy as a form of government they would want to see in Zimbabwe. Of the interviewed 70% of those who said they would vote for Zanu-pf in a national election were in support of democracy and of those who said they would vote for MDC in a national election, 87% were in support of democracy.

An even more overwhelming majority of those interviewed, at 88% level, want to choose their national leaders through "regular, open and honest elections" rather than any other preference. The survey results fly in the face of statements by members of the security forces who continuously state that they will not support anyone who wins the forthcoming presidential election without liberation struggle credentials.

Although the major Zanu-pf supporters want amnesty for perpetrators of past political crimes, both Zanu-pf and MDC-T supporters overwhelmingly want accountability. Furthermore, it is revealed in the Afrobarometer Zimbabwe Survey Round 5 that:

"By a slight majority, Zimbabweans (52%) share the view that trying perpetrators of political crime in a Zimbabwean court of law would be the best option of holding them accountable for their crimes."

The Survey also sought to find out what Zimbabweans, "in all ten provinces, across the political divide, age and educational groups", think about the indigenization programme compared to job creation as a means of economic empowerment. It informs that the view of

""¦respondents (78%) is that creating jobs is a far effective way of empowering all Zimbabweans than taking over ownership of businesses (19%)."

On devolution, the dissemination meeting of the Afrobarometer survey results brought to light that when Zimbabweans were asked whether they "agree or disagree with the constitutional provision to devolve power, from central government to governments at a sub-national level, such as a local or provincial government", the outcome was that:

"A majority of Zimbabweans (61%) are in support of devolution"¦7 out of 10 provinces want to see a devolved state in Zimbabwe."

Prominent Bulawayo based economist, John Robertson, speaking at the same meeting revealed that white Zimbabweans still face challenges with registering as voters regardless of the fact that they are bona fide Zimbabwean citizens. He said that:

"Although I was born in Zimbabwe and possess a Zimbabwean passport I have been denied the right to vote in Zimbabwe. This is also despite the fact that my mother was born in Bulawayo hundred years ago."

Although most rural people confess that they think their economic conditions are very bad, it was revealed that more urban dwellers feel they have experienced more insecurity since 2009, in terms of cooking energy and water, than the number of rural people who expressed this concern. Overall, most Zimbabweans have gone without food, water and sufficient income than those who have been in comfort zone with respect to these amenities during the same period.

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