Can Chamisa afford to ignore the Afrobarometer poll?


Movement for Democratic Change Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa’s new spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda says pre-election polls on Zimbabwe are misleading.

It is not clear whether his sentiments are based on what the polls say, namely that Chamisa will not win the coming elections, or whether Sibanda is just daft.

“Zimbabweans are not used to these surveys, they do not understand them and if you ask them these questions, they are likely to think that you are an authority and they will give you an answer that you expect. So the people will answer on the affirmative in terms of the sitting regime to protect themselves,” he was quoted by Newsday as saying.

“There is going to be years in this country before we can actually have surveys that are reflective of our elections. This only happens in countries where the elections are not rigged and where the electoral commission can produce a voter’s roll on time as is required by law,” he said.

While one might have doubts about the Kenyan polls done by a company associated with David Nyekorach Matsanga, a known Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front sympathiser, this is definitely not true of the Mass Public Opinion Institute which conducted the Afrobarometer poll.

MPOI is as old as the MDC having been registered in January 1999 and was headed by the late Masipula Sithole. It is currently headed by another academic Eldred Masunungure.

Zimbabwe has had five national elections since MPOI was established and the MDC has contested all. MPOI has therefore been conducting polls for the past 19 years. If anything MPOI has been accused of being pro-MDC or pro-opposition because it receives some of its funding from United States organisations.

Chamisa can only ignore the Afrobarometer poll at his own risk unless of course he is taking cue from Donald Trump who won against the polls but US and Zimbabwe elections are different. In Zimbabwe numbers count and Hilary Clinton won more votes than Trump.

In 2012, the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing United States think tank, carried out a poll on the Zimbabwe Elections.

The poll revealed that the MDC was losing support but 47 percent of the electorate was sitting on the fence.

The MDC rubbished that poll and lost the 2013 elections.

In the current poll the percentage of undecided voters, or those sitting on the fence, is 26 percent but the MDC needs 19 percentage points to win the elections while ZANU-PF only needs 8 percentage points for an outright victory.

Should the MDC not work on persuading the 26 percent to come to its side?

Should it rely on intuition that people are tired of ZANU-PF and Mnangagwa, or that because Mnangagwa was beaten twice by Blessing Chebundo, he is an easy walkover for Chamisa?

If Sibanda really said what Newsday said he said, that Zimbabweans do not understand surveys and really give you the answer that you expect, then God forbid. But this sounds more like an insult to the average Zimbabwean’s intelligence and might cost Chamisa some votes.



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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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