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Key findings
  • Almost four-fifths (78%) of Zimbabweans say the country should choose its leaders through regular, open, and honest elections, while 18% prefer other methods because elections “sometimes produce bad results.”
  • More than half (52%) of Zimbabweans say they personally fear becoming victims of political intimidation or violence during election campaigns.
  • Assessments of government performance in preventing political violence reflect Zimbabwe’s stark partisan divide: Four-fifths (79%) of opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) supporters say it is doing badly, while almost as many ZANU-PF adherents (70%) say it is doing well.
  • Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents say that people “often” or “always” have to be careful about how they vote.

Elections are a critical mechanism through which citizens choose their representatives and hold them to account. Since attaining independence in 1980, Zimbabwe has unfailingly conducted regular elections – a total of eight parliamentary and five presidential elections, most recently two ”harmonized” (i.e. concurrent presidential, parliamentary, and local government) elections.

With few exceptions, the country’s elections have been fraught with controversy and oppositionparty allegations of politically motivated violence and intimidation perpetrated by the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF). These allegations have been particularly common in elections held since 2000, most notably the June 2008 presidential runoffs. As a result of alleged electoral irregularities, the outcomes of virtually all previous elections have been contested.

Afrobarometer Round 7 survey findings in Zimbabwe show overwhelming popular desire for regular, open, and honest elections, but this is accompanied by widespread fears of political intimidation and violence during campaigns as well as a strong perception that citizens need to exercise caution when casting their ballots.

Stephen Ndoma

Stephen is the assistant project manager for Southern Africa

Richman Kokera

Richman Kokera is research officer for MPOI