‘We don’t like bond notes but we do trust Mugabe’: What Zimbabweans told Afrobarometer

Harare – Most Zimbabweans don’t have any faith in bond notes but they still trust President Robert Mugabe, a new survey claims.

The survey, carried out by Afrobarometer, polled 1 200 adults in Zimbabwe’s urban and rural areas in January and February. It discovered that more than half consider their personal living conditions to be “very bad” or “fairly bad”.

But 64% of Zimbabweans surveyed said they still put their trust in Mugabe, who has been in power since independence in 1980 and says he will stand in next year’s polls.

“There is more trust in the president in rural areas (69%) than urban centres (55%),” Afrobarometer said in a press release to accompany the findings.

The scale of the president’s popularity will surprise some, given Zimbabwe’s current economic hardships.

Prevailing cash shortages mean many people battle to get cash out of banks. Businesses and street vendors are feeling a severe squeeze on their earnings as customers try not to part with their precious cash.

Coalition to challenge Mugabe 

Hardly surprising then that 49% of Zimbabweans told Afrobarometer that bond notes – introduced last November to try to ease those cash shortages – would not solve anything.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya said last week that 163 million dollars’ worth of bond notes and coins were in circulation. The money now represents most of the cash in circulation, as US dollars have largely disappeared from the market.

Worryingly for opposition parties, who are making efforts to form a coalition to challenge Mugabe in next year’s polls, only 32% of the respondents said they trusted them.

That figure is lower than the number of people who trust the police force (51%) who are accused of extorting bribes or fines for petty offences from motorists.

But MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said the “culture of fear” in Zimbabwe was likely to have affected what people said during the survey.

“Zimbabwe is a fully-fledged dictatorship, where the average person, even in the urban areas, is so fearful, especially when they’re asked politically-sensitive questions,” he told News24

“The natural reaction is to give an answer that you think won’t upset the political establishment.”

The survey also found that respondents claimed to trust Mugabe more than they do the ruling party. Fifty-six percent say they trust Zanu-PF. – News24

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