In 2014/15 Afrobarometer carried out a survey across five African countries focusing on the state of multi-party democracy.
The survey involved 9 500 interviews conducted in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The results were unanimous in supporting multiparty politics but uniquely also revealed a deep distrust for opposition parties.
According to Rorisang Lekalake, Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Sciences Research (CSSR) the results showed that “opposition parties face major obstacles to winning majority support”.
“These include the fact that they aren’t trusted as much as governing parties and that very often they aren’t seen as a viable alternative to the dominant ruling party”.
“Public dissatisfaction with government performance doesn’t necessarily translate into perceptions that opposition parties could do a better job, as Figure 1 shows.
“This is particularly so in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
“While eight in 10 citizens in the two countries report poor government performance on their top policy priority, unemployment, only 37% say that another political party could solve the problem,” she said.
A Barren Anger
The findings provide a unique context where anger against the government doesn’t necessarily translate into wholesome support for the opposition.
Zimbabwe’s main opposition party the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) has been experiencing this freakish environment where the alarming state of Zimbabwe isn’t shifting the tables powerfully enough to change the political status quo.
The most that the economic horrors have done politically, has been to facilitate the coup where one ZANU PF faction kicked out another faction.
Currently, the country’s inflation is over 700% and the local Zimdollar is an unwanted leper shunned by both Government and the private sector.
Since 2001 the country has been under sanctions from the US and the European Union in what has been seen as a ploy to effect regime change.
However, as captured in Why Sanctions Have Not Worked: Zimbabwe’s Experience From 2001-2021 by Joseph Chikawa, the resultant pain and anger against the government has not worked for the opposition.
The study found that “ruling party political elites have circumvented the effects of sanctions at a heavy cost to the populace”.
The research is important because it demonstrates that sanctions do not harm their targets but instead pauperise, the majority which they meant to protect and prolong the political life of the sanctioned regime.
Chikawa concludes that “the act of sanctioning, therefore, needs to be reconsidered”.
The opposition has also been exhibiting similar thoughts, though in not so many words.
Not Much To Gain
Resultantly, CCC has failed to garner much from the situation and already things are not looking good as the 2023 elections draw closer.
History already stands as a stark warning and lesson that there isn’t much to gain from the current economic state of the country.
It’s most likely, as Fitch Solutions, a global advisory stated in August, that ZANU PF will win again.
“At Fitch Solutions, we believe that the incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF party will win the upcoming general elections due to be held by August 2023.
“Zanu PF’s overarching resources and influence compared to opposition CCC, headed by Chamisa, will preserve its support in rural strongholds and win key votes in low-income urban areas.
“Central to our belief that Zanu PF will win the elections is the party’s far greater political and economic resources it has to sway the vote in its favour,” it says.
While it’s a unanimous position that the situation is bad in the country, there isn’t much political capital for the opposition to take over after the 2023 elections.