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AD206: Zimbabwe’s MPs, local councillors get poor ratings on responsiveness and performance

Stephen Ndoma 16 May 2018 Zimbabwe
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Key findings
  • Only one-fifth (20%) of Zimbabweans believe that MPs “often” or “always” do their best to listen to the people. A slightly larger proportion (25%) say the same thing about local government councillors.
  • Zimbabweans are divided as to whether MPs’ willingness to listen has gotten better (37%) in recent years or stayed the same (36%), but only one in six (17%) think it’s gotten better.
  • A majority of Zimbabweans say they don’t feel free to criticize their MPs (62%) and local councillors (55%).
  • Fewer than half of respondents “approve” or “strongly approve” of the way their MPs (40%) and local government councillors (49%) have done their jobs over the previous 12 months. Disapproval is particularly high among urban residents, the best-educated respondents, and MDC-T supporters
  • Slightly more than half of Zimbabweans say they trust Parliament (55%) and their elected local government council (51%) “somewhat” or “a lot.” As with disapproval, distrust is stronger among urbanites, better-educated respondents, and MDC-T adherents.

In a democracy, elected local and parliamentary representatives are critical channels through which citizens’ views and preferences can impact local and national policies. They are also important conduits for disseminating information about government actions to the grass roots.

As Zimbabwe gears up for its 2018 harmonized elections, this dispatch examines how citizens perceive their members of Parliament (MPs) and local government councillors in terms of responsiveness and job performance. Do Zimbabweans feel free to criticize the people they elect to serve them, and how much faith do they have in them?

According to results of the 2017 Afrobarometer survey in Zimbabwe, few citizens think their MPs and local councillors are willing to listen to their constituents, and a majority don’t feel free to criticize them. Only about half approve of their job performance and express trust in them. Zimbabweans who live in urban areas, have post-secondary education, and/or support the opposition political party are particularly critical of their MPs and local councillors.

Stephen Ndoma

Stephen is the assistant project manager for Southern Africa