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USAID-funded poll surprised even the Americans

A United States Agency for International Development-funded opinion poll conducted by the Mass Public Opinion Institute surprised United States embassy officials when it revealed that people were evenly divided over the fairness of the 2002 presidential poll.

The Movement for Democratic Change had cried foul saying it had been robbed of victory and the West refused to accept the results.

The poll, carried out four months after the elections, revealed that 40.4 percent thought the elections were very free and 41.4 percent thought they were not free at all.

“This result is a significant surprise, as we would have expected a widespread perception of the election as overwhelmingly fraudulent,” the embassy commented on the results.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 02HARARE2265, PUBLIC OPINION POLL REVEALS SUPRISING PERCEPTIONS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

02HARARE2265

2002-10-15 05:42

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 002265

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: EAID PGOV PHUM PREL ZI

SUBJECT: PUBLIC OPINION POLL REVEALS SUPRISING PERCEPTIONS

OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

 

REF: HARARE 00482

 

SUMMARY

——–

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.

 

POST-ELECTION SURVEY RESULTS

—————————-

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).

 

VOTER TURNOUT

————-

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.

 

ELECTION RESULTS

—————-

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,

 

SIPDIS

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

ZESN:

 

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

 

OTHER FINDINGS

————–

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.

 

LAND IRRELEVANT

—————

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.

 

COMMENT

——-

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.

SULLIVAN

(7 VIEWS)

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