POLITICAL analysts have predicted a tight presidential election race that could spill into a run-off despite an Afrobarometer survey which projected Emmerson Mnangagwa winning 35% of the vote against his main rival and CCC leader Nelson Chamisa who would garner only 27%.
The survey’s findings meant that the CCC leader’s support base had shrunk by 6% since June 2022.
The same survey also showed that the majority of respondents (65%) saying the country is going in the wrong direction while an even larger majority (69%) said the economy is bad.
On the other hand, 62% of people interviewed also said living conditions are bad. Essentially, this constitutes an equal proportion from both the urban and rural areas.
An overwhelming majority (85%) say the government has performed badly in addressing key issues such as unemployment, corruption, the economy and its management.
Afrobarometer said 27% of the 2 400 people surveyed refused to reveal their voting intentions in the presidential race, and 26% of the respondents would not indicate how they would vote in a parliamentary election.
The survey, conducted by the Mass Public Opinion Institute in Zimbabwe, has a +/-2 percent margin of error at 95% confidence level.
The survey results saw Zanu PF apparatchiks going to town in celebrations predicting that the figures meant Mnangagwa would defeat Chamisa outrightly in the first round of the polls. Zimbabwe’s constitution stipulates that a presidential candidate can only be declared a winner if they poll 50% plus one vote.
However, in separate interviews, political analysts said due to the high number of undecided interviewees and those who refused to say which presidential candidate they would vote for, it was unlikely that Mnangagwa would clinch outright victory.
Stephen Chan, professor of politics at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, said either way, the presidential election result would be close.
“There are genuine misgivings about the calibre and policies of both candidates. One is old and his policies don’t seem to work. The other has yet to unveil convincing detailed policies that would both correct the current economic mess and lay the foundations for taking the country forward.
“The latest survey suggests, if those figures are accurate, a run-off rather than an outright victory for Mnangagwa. But a lot of the survey methodology is less sound than it first appears. Right now there is still everything to play for, but the surveys with differing results do add to a sense of uncertainty. I myself have always said the result, either way, would be very close,” he said.