PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has been ranked among sub-Saharan Africa’s 26 worst leaders in a poll released yesterday by Gallup, an American research organisation that studies approval rates for presidents worldwide.
The Gallup results, which were released as leaders were getting ready to attend the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC this week, are based on face-to-face interviews with at least 1 000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in the 26 countries.
Mugabe, who was ranked 21 out of 26 leaders, received an approval rating of 44% and was tied together with Chad’s Idriss Déby while Mali’s Ibrahim Boubacar Keita topped the list at 86%.
Botswana President Ian Khama (81%) was ranked second best in the region with Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta (78%) on third position.
According to the survey, Mugabe edged his southern neighbour, South African President Jacob Zuma, who was ranked 25th with 41% approval. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan was ranked 23rd, with a single percentage point behind Mugabe.
Democratic Republic of Congo leader Joseph Kabila sat at the bottom of the log table with 24% .
Seventeen presidents, among them former Malawian President Joyce Banda (51%), Cameroon’s Paul Biya (70%), Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni (62%), Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete (59%), Ivory Coast’s Allassane Quattara (57%) and Benin’s BoniYayi (55%) managed to score above 50%.
Of the leaders with the highest approval ratings, only two, Biya and Museveni, have been in office for more than two decades.
Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, is one of Africa’s longest-serving presidents.
“Across all sub-Saharan African countries surveyed in 2013, residents who said they are living comfortably or are getting by on their present income were far more likely than those who said they are less well-off to approve of their presidents’ job performance. This suggests that better-off residents may be benefiting, either directly or indirectly, from a certain economic climate nurtured by the leader and his or her policies,” the survey observed.
The survey also observed that leaders who have been in power for more than two decades have been approved by senior citizens. Mugabe received the lowest approval rating from people aged 15 to 24, but was approved more by those above 51 years.
“The generational gap is most acute in Kenya and Nigeria. Younger Nigerians are the most likely to approve of the job performance of their president compared with all other age groups. In Kenya, those aged 45 and older are the most likely to approve of the job their president is doing,” Gallup concluded.
Presidents in countries facing economic challenges received lower ranking, Gallup observed.
Zimbabwe is currently facing serious economic hardships that have seen companies closing down and workers retrenched, government struggling to pay workers and the country facing a debilitating cash crunch.
Mugabe is accused by his political opponents and economists of being clueless on resolving the economic challenges the country is facing.