NAIROBI -- When Gallup asked Zimbabweans in July 2009 what they believed was the biggest obstacle for their power-sharing government to overcome, nearly 4 in 10 (39%) spontaneously mentioned a lack of trust and confidence. More than one in five (22%) cited a lack of political will to implement reforms, and a similar proportion (19%) cited refusals by the president and prime minister to work together. It is that last problem, however, that best characterizes Zimbabwe's political situation since the coalition government formed in February.
Seven in 10 Zimbabweans surveyed last July (70%) agreed with the creation of the Government of National Unity (GNU). Nearly as many (65%) expected the coalition government would last until the next elections, which are slated for 2013 if the GNU lasts its full five-year term. Disagreement between the two parties and recent resurgence of violence, however, has put this in jeopardy.
Since the coalition government's creation, the two parties have failed to agree on top positions and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangarai's party, claims that it has been ignored by Zanu-PF, President Robert Mugabe's party, in the process of making some key decisions. Recent acts of violence and harassment by Zanu-PF militia against Tsvangarai's loyalists reinforces the belief among MDC leaders that Zanu-PF is failing to live up to its commitments in the power-sharing deal, thus jeopardizing the government's future.
Zimbabweans Lack Confidence in Elections
The MDC threatened to call for fresh elections if a meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) fails to break the current political deadlock. However, in a country where about 1 in 10 residents (11%) express confidence in the honesty of elections, another vote is by no means guaranteed to promote stability. Securing the supervision of the international community, SADC and the African Union might be one way to help avoid a re-run of the violence encountered during the 2008 elections.
Zimbabweans Disapprove of Mugabe
Gallup also asked Zimbabweans whether they approve or disapprove of Mugabe's job performance. Nearly three in four Zimbabweans (74%) said they disapprove of his job performance, and the level is even higher in urban areas (85%) than rural areas (70%). Mugabe's approval rating is similar to that recorded last year, with fewer than 2 in 10 Zimbabweans (17%) approving of the president's performance.
Despite 74% disapproval of President Mugabe's job performance, a solid majority of Zimbabweans agreed with the creation of the current power-sharing agreement between his Zanu-PF party and Prime Minister Tsvangarai's MDC party. A majority of Zimbabweans also want to believe in the success of the GNU, with 65% saying they think it will last until the next election. In addition, after months of unrest following the 2008 elections and multi-digit inflation rates, 71% of Zimbabweans believe the country is going in the right direction. However, despite economic improvements and dropping the Zimbabwe dollar for the temporary adoption of the U.S. dollar and the South African rand, the future remains uncertain for Zimbabwe until confidence is restored between the parties and issues are resolved.
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Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,000 adults in Zimbabwe, aged 15 and older, conducted July 11-26, 2009. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.