BY MOSES MATENGA
THE majority of Zimbabweans are not happy with the direction the country is taking, a recent survey has revealed. According to findings by Afrobarometer, a pan-African, non-partisan, non-profit survey research network, Zimbabweans who were interviewed said they were suffering and had gone without cash, water and other basics for too long.
“Two-thirds (67%) of Zimbabweans say the country is going in the wrong direction,” the report read in part.
“On the economic situation: Almost three-quarters (72%) described the country’s economic condition as fairly bad or very bad.”
The report said only one-third (35%) were optimistic that the country’s macroeconomic conditions would have improved in a year’s time.
“An overwhelming majority (87%) of Zimbabweans say they went without a cash income several times, many times, or always during the previous year.”
On government’s performance, the report said the majority of Zimbabweans rated President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration badly, but also said if elections were to be held tomorrow, Zanu PF would win with a narrow margin over the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance.
“Large majorities say the government is performing badly on creating jobs (91%), keeping prices stable (78%), improving living standards of the poor (75%) and other issues.”
About half of the citizens, an estimated seven million, say they went without enough food (52%), enough clean water (51%) and medical care (55%) at least several times during the past year, according to the report.
“Lack of clean water was more common in urban areas. Going without enough food and without a cash income was more common in rural areas,” the report released yesterday said.
The report said things had worsened in the COVID-19 era where most Zimbabweans went without a income at least several times during the past year while about half experienced repeated shortages of food, clean water and medical care.
On political party choices, about a quarter (27%) of citizens said they felt close to Zanu PF, while a fifth (20%) said they would chose MDC Alliance.
“If presidential elections were held tomorrow, one-third (33%) of respondents say they would vote for the Zanu PF candidate, compared to one-fourth (26%) who say they would vote for the MDC Alliance candidate. About four in 10 refused to answer, say they would not vote, or say they don’t know.”
Zimbabweans, however, said they were happy with the government’s response to COVID-19.
“On the whole, the public gives a thumbs-up to the government for its response to COVID-19. Government generally gets positive ratings for its management of the COVID-19 response, despite concerns about some of the measures which saw citizens losing jobs and sources of income,” part of the report read.
“Four out of five respondents (81%) endorse lockdowns and school closures to curb the spread of COVID-19, although most say lockdowns were difficult to comply with and schools should have reopened much sooner.”
On restrictions to freedoms during the COVID-19 pandemic, almost three-fourths (72%) of Zimbabweans said the government was justified in using the police and army to enforce public health mandates, such as lockdown orders, mask requirements, and restrictions on public gatherings, during a health emergency.
“Views are more divided on whether a pandemic justifies postponing elections or limiting political campaigning: Half (51%) of Zimbabweans said yes, while 36% disagree. And citizens are evenly split on censorship of the media during a pandemic: 43% say such restrictions are justified, but 45% disagree.”
“A majority (55%) say they are worried, including 34% who are “very worried,” that politicians are using or will use the pandemic as an opportunity to increase their power and authority.”
“Looking ahead, more than half (51%) of Zimbabweans believe that the COVID-19 pandemic is going to be a ‘somewhat serious’ or ‘very serious’ problem for the country over the next six months, while 37% think it will not.”
“Government assistance and performance, an overwhelming majority (90%) of Zimbabweans say they did not receive any assistance from the government, such as food, cash payments, or relief from bill payments, during the pandemic.”
“Only one in 10 say their household received such assistance, a stark contrast to the 47% of citizens who say they lost a job, business, or primary source of income. Citizens’ economic status made little difference in whether they received government assistance. In fact, the poorest respondents are slightly more likely to have gone without assistance (91%) than their wealthier counterparts (87%).”
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