The Herald (Harare)

12 July 2013

Zimbabwe: Pundits See No Room for MDC-T Upset

Photo: Sokwanele
Saturday morning market outside Bulawayo City Hall

LEADING British newspaper, the Guardian and Witwatersrand University analyst Susan Booysen who supervised the Freedom House survey last year have once again forecast a Zanu-PF victory in harmonised elections due on July 31.

The Guardian said President Mugabe held all the aces in the polls, while Booysen was quoted in the American multinational media house -- Bloomberg, as saying there was little chance of MDC-T springing an upset.

Booysen supervised a survey by Freedom House, a United States-based thinktank, in 2012 that found that support for MDC-T had plummeted from 38 percent in 2010 to 19 percent while support for Zanu-PF had grown to 31 percent, up from 17 percent, over the same period.

The survey said President Mugabe would command the support of 31 percent of voters in the presidential election, compared to 19 percent for MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.

In March, the Guardian predicted that Zanu-PF would be victorious in the elections as it was managing its politics well, way ahead of MDC-T and other parties.

The paper said Zanu-PF had clear empowerment programmes compared to MDC-T that had been encumbered by Mr Tsvangirai's sex scandals and questionable handling of public finances.

Booysen yesterday said there was little chance of Mr Tsvangirai winning the elections because of lack of preparedness and support in urban areas.

"The MDC-T lost moral ground in urban areas and its other constituencies and they are no longer able to say they will win an election provided it is free and fair," she said.

"The MDC-T has little chance of victory on two main grounds: lack of preparedness and the voters' roll, which really can, it seems, be used for manipulation.

"There is also a threat of violence at Zanu-PF's disposal, whether violence is used or not."

Booysen said this would show MDC-T that there was no honeymoon in politics.

"Perhaps they think that they are crown prince that need only wait for Mugabe to go for it to fall in their lap. This is a wake-up call for them that there is no honeymoon," she said.

The Guardian, on the other hand, said Tsvangirai had already started being defensive ahead of the elections.

The paper said President Mugabe was "no electoral push over" and had a long way to go as leader of the country.

"Opinion polls in recent months have repeatedly shown that Tsvangirai's popularity has been hurt by divisions within the opposition and his own scandalous love-life, putting him and Mugabe neck-and-neck, with the wily President even edging in front on occasion," the paper said.

"This is all a long-winded way of saying that Mugabe is looking good to win these elections... "

Added the paper: " . . . even if they (elections) are as flawed as Tsvangirai thinks they will be, the elections might still pass the regional test of fairness and transparency, making Mugabe a democratically elected president once again."

The revelations by the Guardian and Booysen dovetail with several recent surveys by the Mass Public Opinion Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Afro barometer as well as forecasts from MDC-T's erstwhile allies, among them the NCA, Concerned ZCTU Affiliates, Zimbabwe Vigil and Sokwanele that all forecast a victory for Zanu-PF in the harmonised elections.

Voting patterns in the constitutional referendum had Zanu-PF driving the "Yes" vote, while Zanu-PF primaries were highly subscribed compared to the MDC-T's primaries and controversial confirmation exercises that was fraught with voter apathy.

MDC-T acknowledged the apathy in one of its election strategy documents titled "Priority Activities Ahead of 2013 Elections MDC-T", where it admitted to low voter registration turnout in its perceived strongholds.

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