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Uncertainties abound as Zimbabwe readies for election

16 Aug 2023 Zimbabwe
Authored by the Afrobarometer team

Zimbabweans may carry high hopes to the polls when they go to elect a president on 23 August.

They will definitely carry anxieties as well.

Their top concerns, according to a national Afrobarometer survey in April-May 2023, are unemployment and management of the economy. About two-thirds of respondents said the country is going in “the wrong direction” (65%) and described the country’s economic situation and their personal living conditions as bad (69% and 62%). Only 27% thought things would be better in a year’s time.

But they also have concerns about the election itself: Majorities said they fear violence during election campaigns (59%) and think that violence is “somewhat” or “very” likely after this election’s results are announced (56%). Only half (51%) said they trust the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, and 49% said incorrect results are likely to be announced.

Even so, 85% said they were registered to vote, and most indicated they would “definitely” (70%) or “probably” (14%) cast their ballots.

Who will win? Excluding the 6% who said they would not vote, 37% indicated they would vote for incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF and 28% for main challenger Nelson Chamisa’s Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC). But fully one in three (34%) refused to reveal how they will vote or said they “don’t know.” With so many Zimbabweans holding their cards close to their chests, we will have to wait until all votes are counted – accurately, one hopes – to see who prevails.

Approaching the presidential election | Zimbabwe | 2023

Respondents were asked:

Would you say that the country is going in the wrong direction or going in the right direction?

In general, how would you describe: The present economic condition of this country? Your own present living conditions?

Looking ahead, do you expect economic conditions in this country to be better or worse in 12 months’ time? (% “better” or “much better”)

How much trust do you have in each of the following, or haven’t you heard enough to say: Zimbabwe Electoral Commission? (% “somewhat” or “a lot”)

In your view, how likely is it that there will be violence after the announcement of election results? (% “somewhat likely” or “very likely”)

In your opinion, how likely will the following things happen in the 2023 elections: Even after all ballots are counted, an incorrect result will be announced? (% “somewhat likely” or “very likely”)

If presidential elections were held tomorrow, which candidate’s party would you vote for?