Food insecurity is by far the most troublesome problem for Zimbabweans and has increased substantially between Afrobarometer surveys in mid-2004 and late 2005.) Indeed, in the eyes of the general public, food shortages have dethroned economic management as the number one national problem. Three in ten (31%) adult Zimbabweans now feel that the most important problem they are facing is food shortages. This is one of the most striking findings about the people’s development agenda as revealed by the latest Afrobarometer survey.
The survey was conducted from 9 to 26 October 2005 and covered both urban and rural segments of all ten administrative provinces in Zimbabwe. The survey was based on a double sample: a nationally representative random main sample of 1096 respondents and a purposive sub-sample of 104 respondents comprising victims of the Government’s Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order. In both cases, respondents were Zimbabwean men and women of voting age. Because of disruptions to fieldwork by some unruly political elements, completion of the survey was aborted towards the end: we were able to complete just 1048 interviews of the main sample and 64 of the sub-sample totalling 1112 interviews. The Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI), a Zimbabwean non-governmental research organisation, conducted all fieldwork.
All citizens have their problems, aspirations, and frustrations. Governments are there to try to solve or at least mitigate people’s problems and satisfy their aspirations. A perennial question in the three Afrobarometer surveys conducted so far is: “In your opinion, what are the most important problems facing this country that government should address?” Respondents were asked to give up to three answers and, in Figure 1 below, the first responses given are graphically presented.