Biti rubbishes opinion polls

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party has denied that its popularity ratings have plunged, disputing an opinion poll which revealed that it suffered a slide.

The MDC is facing a rough ride in the GNU, and its leader Tsvangirai seem to have been outwitted by his foe, President Robert Mugabe, a cunning political veteran who has used a mix of intimidation, obstinacy and charm to stymie reforms.

With a call for a national elections on the cards as soon as June, Tsvangirai and his MDC also face a tough election battle against Zanu PF.

The latest poll by the Mass Public Opinion Institute, a Zimbabwean organisation that conducted the fieldwork for the poll commissioned by Freedom House, a US-based group, showed the resurgent Zanu PF on 31 percent from 17 percent with support for the MDC dropping dramatically from 38 percent to 20 percent.

The survey of about 1 200 Zimbabweans, conducted in 2012, 47 percent refused to express a party preference.

The collapse is the most dramatic of the MDC in its 13 years in existence.

MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti yesterday rubbished the opinion poll, claiming his party will garner 75 percent of the votes.

Biti said what has indeed gone down is the confidence and security of the people. He said looking at the huge figure of people who did not want to express themselves freely in the opinion poll, the MDC was actually concluding that the voting bloc were MDC supporters who would vote against Zanu PF.

Tsvangirai, hailed as a steady hand on the economic tiller in his four years as prime minister, has failed to assert his authority over the crucial security and media sectors and his party’s political impotence in the political realm has pulled down his reputation for economic competence.

But Biti said the findings could not be relied on because they were carried out in a climate of fear.

“The only opinion poll which matters will be the election,” Biti said addressing a gathering in Kuwadzana, Harare.

Zimbabwe is set to hold fresh elections later this year to end the uneasy coalition between Mugabe and Tsvangirai which was formed after an inconclusive election in 2009.

“Some polls have credited 30 percent to MDC while giving Zanu PF 35 percent and saying about 40 percent could not share their political opinions. That 40 percent represent MDC people who because of fear of intimidation could not reveal their party choice,” said Biti.

Biti stressed to his party members that there was no other party leader other than Tsvangirai, and urged MDC supporters to desist from factionalism.

The Finance minister was accompanied by parliamentarians including, Obert Gutu, Paurina Mpariwa, Paul Madzore, Jessie Majome and Amos Chibaya and some MDC representatives from the United Kingdom.

Biti said they were confident of also getting the alien vote saying Mugabe had lost it when he called them “vanhu vasina mitupo”, (people without origin), thus “humiliating people he was supposed to be leading.” - Bridget Mananavire and John Kachembere

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