Survey Findings: Open letter to Susan Booysen

I write this letter a disappointed man, and I hope my feelings are a true representation of the feelings of the many starving Zimbabweans at home and in the Diaspora.

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This is because of your involvement with the Mass Public Opinion Institute that carried out what I believe is a mockery of a reliable survey.

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I’ve always followed your political analysis, which has sometimes proven not only to be objective but prophetic. I’ve also held you in high esteem given that you come from the Witwatersrand University, which I shall continue to respect regardless of your recent negative attitude towards Zimbabwe’s opposition politics.

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Given that President Jacob Zuma is currently mediating in the crisis, your seemingly interfering act in passing comments and/or professing on a certain survey that includes Zanu(PF) and its opposition parties, is an indirect conflict of interest on its own. Just that the loudest voice came from South Africa may have a negative effect on Zimbabweans and the international community. Many may be led to conclude that your words or involvement in the so-called survey reflect the broad and conclusive views and judgements of the South African government, although this may not be the case.

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The University of Witwatersrand is widely-perceived as a friend of the weak and powerless, the poor and the oppressed, the down-trodden and the underprivileged, the rejected and the neglected. My view is that the university now chooses to associate itself with voices that are louder than the already subdued voices of poor and oppressed Zimbabweans.

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According to recent media reports, the survey was done on 1,198 adults, which I feel cannot be considered a figure at all. With the estimated population around 13 million, minus those in the diaspora, Zimbabweans back home could be around 8 to 10 million. This leads me to conclude that this survey cannot be a true reflection of the thinking and choices of the majority of Zimbabweans.

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In the past, there has always been a trend by academics and intellectuals to associate themselves with Zanu(PF). As the majority of Zimbabweans lack the necessary resources to communicate, in particular technology, the notorious regime will applaud any such survey as an indirect endorsement and assurance on their part. As I write this, Zanu (PF) is already celebrating, as the findings have sort of boosted their campaign.

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The MPOI survey has caused me considerable damage. I have begun to lose hope in the MDC due to these findings. I’ve told myself that my family back home will never see any change of government because of pronouncements by a respected, motherly figure. My knees and elbows are now weak even for prayer, as I believe an academic has spoken. I’ve begun thinking hard and meditating into the future, uncertain if my whole life will be spent away from home, since somebody from the widely-respected and loved University of Witwatersrand has spoken.

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If you go deeper and rethink the small figure that was sampled, you will change your mind and start to side with the poor. If you put yourself in the shoes of the struggling women and children, you will surely rerun your survey. If you re-read the numerous developments pertaining to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, you will finally conclude that the so-called survey was nothing but a tour of the 100 areas mentioned in the survey.

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Given that this is Women’s Month, I suggest you should have waited before pronouncing on the controversial findings. As a motherly figure, I think you did injustice by associating yourself with the survey that has already been rejected by most Zimbabweans. The huge outcry exceeds the tiny misrepresentation in the survey, which needs no rocket scientist to prove otherwise.

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Ms Booysen, it would be in the interest of the poor for you to clarify whether or not you participated in that survey, on whose behalf you spoke about the survey, and also tell us your actual feelings about political support in Zimbabwe for parties other than Zanu (PF), not in any way related to any survey. An apology to all suffering Zimbabweans will do you no harm at all, but would confirm you as one of the most influential and powerful women of the century – who defied all odds by choosing to side with the poor.

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