- A significant number of registered voters in Zimbabwe express their desire for change.
- The findings of a recent large-scale opinion survey indicate that 82% of registered voters share this sentiment.
- According to the survey, 44% of respondents refuse to accept bribes and will vote based on their conscience, while 40% will accept the bribe but still vote according to their conscience. Only 11% will accept the bribe and vote for the briber.
A July survey conducted by the Public Policy and Research Institute of Zimbabwe (PPRIZ) and released two weeks before the general elections reveals that at least 77% of Zimbabweans desire change in their country.
A total of 82% of the survey respondents were registered voters.
The survey states that “the majority of registered voters (67%) express their intention to vote in the upcoming election, while 9% state that they will definitely not vote.”
Rural areas are expected to contribute the largest percentage of votes, with approximately 65% of Zimbabwe’s electorate residing in these areas.
“Among those who are likely to vote, a higher proportion are from rural areas (53%) compared to 47% from urban areas,” the survey highlights.
Zanu-PF has traditionally enjoyed significant support in rural areas during previous elections, but recently Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), has made inroads into Zanu-PF strongholds, although not without facing resistance.
In July, CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere confirmed that their rallies would primarily target rural areas.
However, there have been challenges in farming communities where Zanu-PF has historically garnered overwhelming support.
One such community is Nyamandlovu, situated approximately 40km northwest of Bulawayo. News24 spoke to Julius Ncube, a resettled farmer and former soldier in the area. Ncube is open about his political preferences.
“I will vote for Zanu-PF as I always have. We have land because of Zanu-PF, and without land, we are nothing. Now, if you ask me to vote for Western puppets, it’s like giving up my life,” Ncube stated.
Rural and farming areas commonly hold the belief that the CCC aims to return land to “the white” population. Another prevalent notion is that the party is responsible for the country’s suffering due to their call for sanctions.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa reaffirms these claims during his rallies.
“Didn’t they call for sanctions? We can’t let our guard down. They even know that campaigning here is dangerous,” Ncube added.
Ncube has been transported to Zanu-PF rallies in other parts of Matabeleland, and he thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
In farming communities and most rural areas, residents have limited access to state-controlled newspapers such as the Chronicle and state-run radio stations. Some individuals tune in to shortwave radio stations like the Voice of America to access different perspectives.
However, it is generally frowned upon to be known to listen to pirate radio stations that are deemed anti-government.
In Bulawayo, the constituency of Cowdray Park is an important battleground for Zanu-PF, with finance minister Professor Mthuli Ncube leading their campaign there.
Cowdray Park is the largest constituency in Matabeleland and is home to 70,000 residents, with half of them being registered voters.
There have been allegations of significant vote-buying in the constituency through road construction, providing nurse aid courses for the unemployed, and other social projects.
This constituency will put the traditional urban stronghold tag of the opposition to the test.
Brave Manase, a vendor in Cowdray Park, acknowledged the positive work done by Ncube but anticipated challenges on voting day.
“Someone might vote for Ncube as a Member of Parliament but not for President Mnangagwa. Alternatively, they might choose not to vote for Zanu-PF at all. However, for our area, Prof Ncube has been beneficial, and this presents a challenge for the opposition,” he explained.
His viewpoint aligns with the PPRIZ survey, which shows that people are open to accepting bribes but that it may not change their voting preferences.
“Forty-four percent state that they will refuse to accept bribes and will vote according to their conscience. Meanwhile, 40% will accept the bribe but still vote based on their conscience. Only 11% will accept the bribe and vote for the briber. Five percent remain undecided on whether to accept the bribe or not,” the report states.
Sheila Moyo, a 23-year-old student pursuing a diploma in hotel and catering, is a first-time voter who hopes for change but is skeptical of politicians.
“All I see are older people who don’t really care about us. All they want is to cling to money and power.
“On the other hand, I see people who aspire to enjoy what those in power have, but to be honest, their message is also weak. However, change is a good thing because if we can replace the current leaders, we can easily do the same with the new ones if they are not serving our best interests.
“We have witnessed governments change in Malawi and Zambia, and we want to experience that too,” she expressed.
Several other opinion polls also predict a closely contested race between Mnangagwa and Chamisa, leading to concerns about potential political violence after the election results are announced.