Below is the opposition MDC party led by Morgan Tsvangirai’s response to the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) and Afro-barometer survey showing that President Robert Mugabe is the most trusted public official in the country …

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GUTU

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THE MDC takes very seriously scientific studies which help to inform us of the political environment in which we operate. As such, the MDC will always take its time to thoroughly study the recent report that was published by MPOI working in conjunction with Afro – barometer. Naturally, the MDC will use the report to inform its strategies going forward. These types of surveys assist us in providing data on the electoral environment.

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It is an indisputable fact that the present political environment in Zimbabwe is dominated by fear and insecurity largely because of the tyrannical and dictatorial tendencies of the Zanu PF regime. Since attaining independence in April, 1980, the Zanu PF regime has, over the years, perfected the art of political thuggery, voter intimidation and electoral manipulation.

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Zanu PF has never managed to successfully transform itself into a conventional democratic political organisation. It has largely remained an intolerant, commandist and corrupt political grouping that has never accepted the right of Zimbabwean citizens to hold alternative political views.

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Put simply, Zanu PF is a de facto Mafia organisation that has politicised all levers of State power from the executive, the judiciary, the legislature, the military, the police and the intelligence service. In this kind of toxic and poisoned environment, therefore, it is virtually impossible to get a truly objective and impartial political and socio – economic survey in Zimbabwe.

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The MDC takes note of the fact that the MPOI and Afro-barometer survey was conducted in November 2014 at a time when the party was going through a difficult period and there was a lot of negative publicity. Since then, however, the MDC has stabilised. We have successfully dealt with the issue of the 21 rebel Members of Parliament who have since been recalled from Parliament. As such, the question regarding who is the legitimate MDC has since been settled beyond a shadow of doubt.

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As shown by our very well-attended rallies, morale is back in our camp and we are in the process of rebuilding trust and confidence amongst Zimbabweans. We also take note of the fact that six (6) months have elapsed since this survey was done.

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We note that in the interim there have been fundamental changes in the political terrain and a new leadership of the party has since been elected at the hugely successful 4th national congress that was held in Harare late last year. On the contrary, Zanu PF has since effectively split into at least two very antagonistic and irreconcilable factions, the Gamatox and the Weevils.

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With due respect, therefore, it would be absolute fallacy to suggest that the majority of Zimbabweans, as of now, have more respect and support for the beleaguered and faction-ridden Zanu PF political party.

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As the country’s biggest and most popular political party, the MDC believes that it is incumbent upon all Zimbabweans, across the political divide, to rebuild the people’s trust in politics and politicians.

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ZEC not fit for purpose

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The survey also highlights key issues pertaining to electoral reforms that we have always raised and we are pleased that scientific research backs our claims that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is not an independent and credible institution.

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As the report says, less than 50% of Zimbabweans trust ZEC. These figures are even lower in urban areas and in the southern and western provinces; which shows that there is a very serious problem of electoral mismanagement in the country. It gives further credence to our view that there should   be no elections without reforms.

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An electoral body should command trust and confidence amongst voters and most certainly, ZEC has utterly and completely failed to do that. This is exemplified by ZEC’s persistent failure to timeously avail the electronic voters’ roll and the selective application of the law by our law enforcement agents.

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The MDC reiterates that ZEC needs to seriously improve on its performance. Even the reports of the SADC and AU election observers in July 2013 pointed out the need for ZEC to up its game in as far as electoral management in Zimbabwe is concerned. As it is, the ZEC secretariat is run by military and State security agents and its professionalism and impartiality is severely compromised.

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Corruption

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The MPOI and Afro-barometer report also raises the problem of corruption which the MDC has always highlighted as part of our major concerns. The Zanu PF regime is neck deep in corruption and as the report correctly points out, the people of Zimbabwe now feel helpless about the scourge of corruption in the country.

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The long and short of it is that the Zanu PF regime is now way past its sell-by date and it simply has to go if Zimbabwe is to be successfully extricated from the shackles of corruption and general misgovernance.

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It is also poignant to note that the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has got only 50% trust amongst Zimbabweans. This is a pretty appalling rate for a national police service. It also confirms the need for the ZRP to be reformed as a matter of urgency. Elections cannot be free and fair with a police force that the majority of the people do not trust.

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There is also the fear factor that has played havoc with the Zimbabwean body politic. The majority of Zimbabweans are fearful and traumatised. While taking note of the MPOI report, the MDC also recognises the prevalence of fear and this, naturally, has got an impact on how people react to any questions of a political nature.

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As the country’s leading political party, the MDC is devising winning strategies to deal with the fear factor and thus, to ensure that Zimbabweans can be free and willing to participate in any democratic and constitutional political discourse of their choice.

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MDC: EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL

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OBERT CHAURURA GUTU

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MDC NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON