Opposition’s trust in Zec reached all-time high before July 31 elections

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MDC-Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa casts his vote during elections held in July.
MDC-Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa casts his vote during elections held in July.

THE OPPOSITION’s trust in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) reached at an all-time high before the July 31 elections while Zanu PF’s trust in the electoral management body had dropped by five percent from the corresponding period a year earlier, a Pan African think tank has said.

This follows the latest finding of the Afrobarometer survey which collated information from Zanu PF supporters, MDC supporters and those who identify themselves as non-partisan.

The survey centred on the political party trust patterns between 1999 and July 30 2008.

“ZEC seems to regain some opposition trust while preparing for national elections; the increase to 24 percent in May 2018 and to 29 percent in July 2018 is similar to the pre-election increase in 2012, though more substantial in magnitude,” the survey said.

According to the survey, 44 percent of Zanu PF supporters trusted Zec in 1999, with the number growing to 81 percent in 2017 before dropping to 71 percent in May 2018 and marginally increasing to 77 percent before the July 30 vote.

At least 17 percent MDC supporters trusted Zec in 1999 and 29 percent in July 30.

“The country’s electoral commission is not only tasked with managing elections in nonpartisan fashion; its legitimacy depends at least equally on being perceived to do so. In other words, irrespective of citizens’ political choices, they should have similar confidence in each institution. However, this is not the case,”the survey said.

“ZANU-PF supporters have put an increasing amount of trust in the electoral commission since the late 1990s. Among this group, trust increased after both the 2002 and 2013 elections. In contrast, it stagnated for roughly five years following the 2008 election (67% in 2009, 63% in 2010, and 65% in 2012).

“Unsurprisingly, MDC supporters have a rather different view of the ZEC. In 1999 and 2004, fewer than one in five MDC supporters trusted the commission (17% and 19%, respectively). One year later, this number dropped even further, to one in 10. And while overall trust in the ZEC increased steadily between 2012 and 2018, the trend was quite different for opposition supporters. A decline in trust levels among MDC supporters to 14% in 2014 and 2017 is likely to be a result of the badly managed 2013 election. However, the ZEC seems to regain some opposition trust while preparing for national elections; the increase to 24% in May 2018 and to 29% in July 2018 is similar to the pre-election increase in 2012, though more substantial in magnitude.”

The pan-African research network added that the trendline for non-partisans mirrors that of opposition supporters until 2012, and that of ZANU-PF supporters from 2014 onward.