‘Citizens trust army, loathe military rule’

Most Zimbabweans somewhat trust the army, but loathe military rule because of fear that soldiers could stifle their freedom of expression, an Afrobarometer survey has revealed.

By Everson Mushava

In its latest survey released on Wednesday, Afrobarometer said older citizens above the age of 56 somewhat trust soldiers as opposed to their younger counterparts.

The research, led by the Mass Public Opinion Institute, interviewed 1 200 adult Zimbabweans across the country between January 28 and February 10, 2017.

It was carried out before, but released after the November military intervention that deposed former President Robert Mugabe and ushered in Emmerson Mnangagwa’s rule.

The research sought to establish how the Zimbabwean population sees its military following the events.

The Afrobarometer survey showed considerable public trust in the army, but also fear criticising the army along with a clear rejection of military rule as an option for Zimbabwe.

“Citizens think the army is generally capable of protecting the country from external and internal security threats, but there is substantial scepticism about soldiers’ training, equipment, professionalism, and respect for citizens’ rights,” part of the report read.

The findings indicated about 74% of the respondents aged 56 or above had trust in the military compared to the 63% of the middle-aged and 61% of the youth.

“A huge partisan divide is evident when it comes to trust in the military. A commanding majority (86%) of Zanu PF supporters trust the army, more than double the proportion (41%) of MDC-T partisans who share similar sentiments. Among non-partisans, nearly six in 10 (57%) express trust in the army,” the report read.

“Trust in the military is lower in cities (58%) than in rural areas (68%) and declines with respondents’ educational attainment. While more than three-quarters (77%) of those without formal education say they trust the army, only 52% of those with post-secondary qualifications agree.”

According to Afrobarometer, there was polarisation of public perceptions between members of various political parties, with Zanu PF members more accommodating to military rule, but clear that they felt intimidated to criticise the army.

“So is the one issue on which supporters of both major parties — and of no party — agree almost equally: that they do not feel free to criticise the military.”
A majority in all 10 provinces expressed trust in the army. But the trust is both high and low in the Matabeleland provinces, which experienced the deadly Gukurahundi disturbances in the first decade of Zimbabwe’s independence.

The survey indicates that popular trust in the military was relatively high in State institutions.

“Trust in the army does not mean freedom to criticise it, survey results show. Nearly three quarters (73%) of respondents say they feel ‘not very free’ or ‘not at all free’ to voice criticism of the army; fewer than one in four say they feel ‘somewhat free’ (14%) or ‘completely free’ (9%) to express criticism.”

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  1. The army can not be trusted to restore economic order because military and politics do not go hand in hand. Butter VS Guns. And obviously literate people know the constitutional mandate of the army and that does not include leading the nation let alone deciding who rules us

    1. The above figures are saying a different story from yours @ Samaritan, the average of political categories composted of MDC members , ZANU PF members and that of non partisans being 61.33%.While the research also catigorically used age as a measure bring to an average of 66% for the Army. Geographical measures average also gave a positive 63% and lastly the average using educational qualification brought an average of 64.5%. So generally Zimbabweans Trust the Army at an combound average of 63.71%

  2. Remwmber its the same Junta that has been an impediment to democracy.Its the same military that blocked Morgan Tsvangirai from taking over the reigns of power in 2008 when Mugabe was ready to give in. Its the same junta which said that Zimbabwe will not be ruled by someone who never went to war. DONT FORGET.


  3. Comment…@SIMBA, Mugabe is past sentence, move with the times. Seems there are a lot like SIMBA who are lost and feel hopeless because of the depature of Mugabe. Mugabe is a big brand which sustained hundreds of NGOs, including mdc which cant chant ‘Mugabe must go’

  4. Richard Knottenbelt

    Is this really a survey carried out in early 2017???? Certainly “carried out before, but released after the military intervention…” and published almost a year and a half after it was done. That is history not news, Newsday!

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