Cablegate: Public Opinion Poll Reveals Suprising Perceptions

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. A USAID-funded Post-Presidential Election Survey revealed
some surprising results about the presidential election and
the political environment. According to the poll, more than
72 percent of those surveyed said they voted, more than
official numbers. Almost 40 percent of those surveyed would
not reveal for whom they voted but for those who did disclose
their votes more than 30 percent voted for opposition
candidate Morgan Tsvangirai and less than 30 percent voted
for President Robert Mugabe. Surprisingly, nearly 60 percent
of those surveyed were opposed to mass action; the perception
of electoral fairness was evenly divided; and more than 60
percent felt the post-election period was calm and
non-violent. End Summary.

2. In mid-September, the Mass Public Opinion Institute
(MPOI)--Zimbabwe's only indigenous polling
organization--released the results of a July public opinion
survey, four months after the presidential election. The
polling sample consisted of 1768 randomly selected people
(50.7 percent rural and 49.3 percent urban) from all of
Zimbabwe's provinces. Survey results revealed some
surprising attitudes about Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) mass action, the fairness of the election, the desire
for a government of national unity, and perceptions about the
level of violence after the election. The survey was a
follow-up to a poll conducted in February, prior to the
presidential election, and used the same enumeration areas
(with the addition of Mashonaland Central).

3. More than 72 percent of the respondents said they
voted--more than the official percentage of some 55
percent--with a higher turnout in rural areas than in urban
ones (76 percent versus 68 percent). (COMMENT: This gap
could be attributed to a reluctance by some to admit that
they did not vote. END COMMENT.) In the pre-election survey
86.7 percent of respondents indicated that they intended to
vote. Of those who did not vote, the reasons were split
between not being registered (30 percent), not being in the
home constituency on polling day (22 percent) and other
reasons (21 percent). In Harare, the primary reason for not
voting were the long lines (27 percent of respondents). More
than half the Harare respondents waited in line for more than
six hours and one-third waited in line for more than nine.

4. Forty percent of respondents refused to disclose for whom
they voted compared to 60 percent who refused to disclose
their preferences in the pre-election poll. Overall, 30.5
percent of respondents said they voted for MDC candidate
Morgan Tsvangirai while 27.4 percent said they voted for
President Robert Mugabe. In contrast, the Zimbabwe Election
Support Network, a coalition of thirty-eight non-governmental
organizations formed to coordinate activities pertaining to
elections, reported 43.1 percent voting for MDC and 56.9
percent for ZANU-PF. Predictably, more rural dwellers said
they voted for Mugabe than urban dwellers (35 versus 18
percent) and 39.7 percent of urban residents voted for
Tsvangirai. Masipula Sithole, director of the MPOI,

estimated that 88 percent of those who would not reveal their
votes, voted for Tsvangirai.

5. The following are survey results on voting from MPOI and

MPOI:Mugabe/Tsvangirai/Secret ZESN:Mugabe/Tsvangirai

Harare: MPOI:16.6/46.1/35.4 ZESN:25/75
Bulawayo: MPOI:12.5/35.7/49.1 ZESN:18/82
Mash East: MPOI:32.3/20/46.2 ZESN:78/22
Mash West: MPOI:55.3/12.6/32 ZESN:72/27
Mash Central: MPOI:38.8/8.8/52.5 ZESN:84/16
Midlands: MPOI:37.7/18.8/42 ZESN:63/37
Mat North: MPOI:11.3/32.5/56.3 ZESN:64/36
Mat South: MPOI:8.6/38.6/50 ZESN:53/46
Manicaland: MPOI:12.3/46.1/35.4 ZESN:50/50
Masvingo: MPOI:54.8/14.1/31.1 ZESN:70/30
Total: MPOI:27.4/30.5/40.5 ZESN:56.9/43.1

6. Surprises in the survey results include:

--The majority of respondents--56.9 percent--were against
mass action, evenly divided among rural and urban areas. In
Harare, slightly more than half of the respondents were
opposed to mass action and in Bulawayo close to 62 percent
were opposed. (COMMENT: These results suggest widespread
concern that mass action would trigger violence and not
provide an outcome that justifies the risks involved in
participating in such an action. END COMMENT.)

--Slightly more people are in favor of a rerun of the
presidential election (44.9 versus 40 percent). Manicaland,
Harare and Matebeleland North are the three areas most in
favor of a re-run. Surprisingly, Bulawayo respondents were
not in favor of rerun (48.6 versus 44.5 percent). (COMMENT:
It is interesting to note that people want a rerun but are
not willing to engage in mass action, an important tool for
forcing a rerun. END COMMENT.)

--People were evenly divided over the fairness of the
election with 40.4 percent thinking it very free and fair and
41.4 percent not at all. (COMMENT: This result is a
significant surprise, as we would have expected a widespread
perception of the election as averwhelmingly fraudulent. END
COMMENT.) Predictably, urban residents thought the election
less free and fair than the rural residents (50.6 percent
versus 32.5 percent).

--A smaller percentage of people favored a government of
national unity after the presidential election than before
(48.5 percent versus more than 60 percent in the pre-election
survey). Thirty-five percent of respondents were opposed to
a government of national unity. A higher percentage of rural
dwellers were in favor of a government of national unity than
urban dwellers (50.2 versus 46.7) but only 29.8 percent of
rural people were opposed, compared to 40.4 percent among the
urban residents.

--Prior to the election, nearly half the respondents--49.3
percent--thought the elections would be violent or very
violent. In Harare and Bulawayo, 64.4 percent and 52.3
percent thought it would be violent or very violent,
respectively. The post-election survey revealed that 64.1
percent of respondents thought the aftermath of the election
was very calm with little to no violence or intimidation
(68.5 percent in the rural areas and 59.6 percent in urban
ones). In Harare and Bulawayo, 50.9 and 79.4 percent thought
the post-election period was calm.

--Well over 50 percent of respondents in every province but
one (Masvingo) said Mugabe should make his retirement plans
known. This is the one question where there is agreement in
all provinces regardless of party affiliation and across the
rural/urban, gender, and age divides.

7. Prior to the election, respondents identified democracy
and good governance as the most important issue for the
government to address. After the election, the most important
issue was the economy. The least important issue in both the
pre- and post-election surveys was the land issue in both
rural and urban constituencies.

8. We suspect that some respondents--particularly those in
rural areas--were suspicious of poll takers and might not
have been completely honest. Sithole posited that most of
those who would not reveal for whom they voted likely voted
for Tsvangirai. We have no way of confirming this nor does a
comparison of MPOI and ZESN voting statistics suggest this
voting pattern. END COMMENT.

© Scoop Media

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