President Emmerson Mnangagwa continues to lead the poll on who is likely to win the presidential race in 10 days but his lead over main rival Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance has narrowed to 3 percentage points.
This was a drastic drop from 11 percentage points he recorded in the May poll when 42 percent said they would vote for Mnangagwa and 31 percent for Chamisa. Now 40 percent say they will vote for Mnangagwa and 37 percent for Chamisa.
The latest poll conducted by Afrobarometer between 25 June and 6 July still showed that 20 percent were not willing to express their opinion.
A further 3 percent supported other parties.
This group is large enough to swing the vote and make one of the candidates an outright winner.
A presidential candidate needs to win 50 percent of the vote plus one to win an election in Zimbabwe.
Afrobarometer says elections in Zimbabwe are a tale of two contests.
“Voting patterns diverge dramatically depending on where voters live, principally in rural or urban areas,”” it says.
“As of early July, the ZANU-PF commanded a healthy 18-point lead in citizens’ stated voting intentions across Zimbabwe’s rural areas (48% vs the MDC’s 30%).
“The tables were turned in urban areas where the MDC (party plus Alliance) was ahead by the considerable margin of 23 percentage points (49% vs 26%).”
The continental organisation, however, says the harsh reality of Zimbabwe’s demography must be borne in mind when evaluating these results.
“Almost twice as many people reside in areas classified as rural as live in areas deemed urban (63% vs 37%). As urban elites too often forget, this demographic imbalance endows ZANU-PF with a built-in electoral advantage,” it says.
Afrobarometer says also important is the 20 percent that did not declare its voting intentions.
“If undeclared voters split their votes in the same proportion as declared voters (40:37), then we estimate that the incumbent candidate (Mnangagwa) could win in the first round,” it says.
If, however, the undeclared voters lean towards Chamisa, he would need to win 66.1 percent of them to beat Mnangagwa.
This, it says, is quite possible.