MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa, said the survey by the United States’ Freedom House could not be deemed conclusive arguing “there were many people who did not express their views freely in the exercise”.
“It’s erroneous to say the support of the MDC is dwindling,” Chamisa told the Daily News. “How do you do a research or survey in an environment of fear and violence? Our support is not fading.”
Freedom House released its findings in Johannesburg Friday, and later held a panel discussion which unpacked the current political issues in the inclusive government and the resurgence of violence, which is almost cowing political expressions.
It said the support for the MDC, led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, had dropped sharply from 55 percent to 38 percent – showing a 17 percent decline.
On the other hand, Zanu PF support grew from 12 percent to 17 percent.
“What has indeed gone down is the confidence and security of the people. Their certainty levels surely have sharply gone down because there is a resurgence of violence and intimidation,” said Chamisa.
“Of course, Zanu PF would come out in the open and declare that their support is increasing because they are the perpetrators of violence. If we look at that huge figure of people who did not want to express themselves freely, we can actually conclude that they do not want Zanu PF.”
Chamisa said conducting surveys in the current environment was like trying to gauge free expression in Afghanistan. “In the current circumstances of violence, the surveys are meaningless.”
Freedom House compiled the figures from a “nationally” representative sample of 1 200 adult Zimbabweans in all the 10 provinces.
In the survey, 89 percent of respondents did "not feel free to express political views”, 74 percent believe "that fear affects how people vote", 57 percent and 58 percent, respectively, had experienced violence in their constituencies and communities.
At the same time, 42 percent of respondents chose not to declare their vote preference – an 11 percent rise from the previous year.
Political analyst Eldred Masunungure, told journalists on Friday the MDC had lost ground because its senior members who were now part of the government paid more attention to matters of State than to building up their own party.
The MDC is in an uneasy power-sharing government with President Robert Mugabe and has struggled to exert its influence in the shaky deal.
While their ministers have shown much promise and delivery in key areas, Mugabe and his allies have frustrated the movement’s plans to turn around the economy.
Analysts have warned Tsvangirai that it would be difficult to try and extricate himself and the MDC from the failures of the inclusive government, because he is now a key player in it.
Mugabe and his hardliners have been belligerent towards the MDC leader who is currently under pressure to negotiate his way out of the sanctions trap which neutrals say presents him with a stern test.
Zanu PF and the entire SADC leadership have said the EU and the US must remove the sanctions to allow economic recovery.
Last week, Mugabe launched the anti sanctions drive and has put in motion plans to seize companies with links to the EU countries and the US.
Tsvangirai has said “we must speak with one voice” and revealed cabinet would soon deliberate on the issue. – Daily News