Harare - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is more popular than his long-standing rival, former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, a survey has revealed.
The research by the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) showed that almost half of Zimbabwe's adult population would vote for Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party if elections were held tomorrow, although they fear him, News Day reported on Thursday.
"An overwhelming majority (90%) say they are not very or not at all free to criticise the president and almost half of adult Zimbabweans (49%) are not very free or not free at all to say what they want," the survey reportedly established.
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Mugabe, 91, has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.
The nonagenarian has over the years been accused of ruling the country with an iron fist and using violence, particularly during elections, to remain in power.
But the state-owned Herald newspaper maintained the survey findings were confirmation that Mugabe was voted into power on the basis of his performance.
The survey was conducted in the country’s 10 provinces.
Mugabe scored high in critical areas, the report said. "The president got 71% for hardworking, qualified to govern (63%), honest (60%), peace-loving (72%) and 64% for caring for the people."
This was despite the fact that some Zimbabweans expressed dissatisfaction over the continued deterioration of the southern African country’s economy.
Zimbabwe has been reeling under economic hardships for more than a decade after sanctions were imposed in 2002 following rising political violence ahead of that year's presidential elections.