Morgan Tsvangirai leads opinion polls

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Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, could win the forthcoming presidential election in two weeks time against beleaguered incumbent, Mr Robert Mugabe, an opinion poll published yesterday indicate.

from our correspondent in Harare

The Mass Public Opinion Institute, run by respected academic Eldred Masunungure, a professor of political science at the University of Zimbabwe UZ) conducted the polls.

Out of a total of 1,693 respondents polled, 28,3 per cent said Tsvangirai was the kind of their choice, while 20,3 per cent stood solidly behind Mugabe.

The forecast for former Finance Minister and Zanu-PF politburo member, Dr Simba Makoni, who stands as an independent candidate was 8,6 percent, while only 1 per cent said they would give their vote to rank outsider, Langton Towungana.

Detailed results

A surprise finding was that 23,5 per cent were unwilling to disclose their
choice, saying they wanted to keep their vote secret.

Of the balance 7,5 percent said they had not made up their mind, while 5,4 per cent said they will not vote and 4,4 percent said, “I don’t know”.

The poll categorised 1,9 percent of respondents under the heading “other”.

In a interview, Professor Masunungure defended his institute’s poll.

No outright majority

He said an important fact to emerge from the poll was that no-one would win an outright majority and there was a strong likelihood of a presidential run off.

“With all things being equal no one will gain 51 percent of the vote in the
first round and that there will be a run-off is almost certain,” Masunungure said.

“No party will be able to gain a two-thirds majority in the House of Assembly, and by extension, in the Senate. I am not sure what is likely to happen at the local government level.”

He said opinion polls were reflections of voter sentiment and could only be measured on the basis of those who were willing to express themselves.

He said the poll was based on a representative sample of rural and urban voters.

Mr Tsvangirai tends to draw his support from urban dwellers while Mr Mugabe has thrived in the past on the support of rural peasants.

Makoni and Towungana

Masunungure said it had been difficult to gauge the power base of Dr Makoni or the little-known Towungana.

Masunungure said the most important issue for the Zimbabwean voter was the economic crisis gripping the country, the signs of which include record inflation at 100,530 per cent, massive unemployment and empty supermarket shelves.

Zimbabweans go to the polls on March 29.

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