Cape Town – Zimbabweans are a fearful people who have been so traumatised by the ruling Zanu-PF party's dictatorship that they will not freely answer questions of political nature, a spokesperson for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says.
The MDC's Obert Gutu was reacting to a recent poll conducted by the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) which found that President Robert Mugabe would defeat Morgan Tsvangirai if elections were to be held in the country now.
According to a New Zimbabwe.com report, the poll, which was commissioned by Afrobarometer, showed that Mugabe would beat Tsvangirai by 44% of votes to 21% if polls were to be held "tomorrow".
The organisation interviewed 2 400 adult citizens from all the country's 10 provinces.
But Gutu rubbished the findings, telling News24 that there was no way Mugabe could win an election against Tsvangirai.
"There is absolutely no way in which Robert Mugabe can beat Morgan Tsvangirai in a free and fair election. That is simply not feasible, it's not tenable," Gutu said.
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He added: "We should always take note of the margin of terror in some of these surveys. Zimbabweans are a fearful people who have been traumatised by the Zanu-PF dictatorship over the years. As such, most Zimbabweans don't trust strangers and they will not freely answer questions of a political nature especially if those questions are asked by a complete stranger.”
Gutu said people still had "tremendous" faith in the MDC.
"You can easily gauge that faith by the resounding success of our "Without Reforms, No Elections" campaign. For instance, less than 10 000 people voted in the five Bulawayo constituencies in which by-elections were recently held. This proves, beyond a shadow of doubt, that the majority of the people heeded our call not to participate in sham elections," he said.
Zimbabwe held by-elections on June 10 in which Zanu-PF bagged all 16 seats after the MDC pulled out of the race.
Reports said candidates from Zanu-PF won by huge margins in many constituencies, although turnout in some urban centres was low.
Critics, however, say support for the MDC has weakened since a coalition government was in power between 2009 and 2013.
Tsvangirai appears to have lost popularity due to perceived lack of action while he was prime minister and allegations of a messy love life ahead of his second marriage in 2012.