The majority of Zimbabweans, who head to the polls today, feel their standards of living are dissipating as economic conditions – worsened by rising unemployment – deteriorate, a new poll survey released by Gallup shows.
The presidential, parliamentary and local authority vote being held today in Zimbabwe will usher in a new administration, the second one after the ouster of the late former leader, Robert Mugabe in a military coup in 2017.
Incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over from Mugabe, winning a subsequent election in 2018, and Nelson Chamisa who heads the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change are the front-runners.
As they vote today, Zimbabweans are feeling the pinch of an economic decay that has also driven nearly 1 million of their kith and kin to seek better prospects abroad, mostly in South Africa.
A poll survey released yesterday by Gallup and titled Economy Remains Top Concern Ahead of Zimbabwe Election has painted a less rosy outlook of the confidence Zimbabweans have in their economy.
“For many Zimbabweans, the outlook appears increasingly gloomy, as 72% say the economic conditions in their city or area are getting worse and 20% say they are getting better. This is reflected in reported difficulties in finding employment, with 72% of residents saying it is a bad time to find a job in their area,” Gallup said in its report.
Despite inflation falling from 101% in July to 77% this month and the Zimbabwe dollar holding fort against the US dollar in the past few weeks, the majority of Zimbabweans polled by Gallup “are still in economic pain” with “fewer than three in 10 Zimbabweans (29%) feeling their living standards” are getting better.
“About 62% feel (living standards) are getting worse… 44% report finding it very difficult on their present income. While economic conditions were difficult under Mugabe, Zimbabweans have been more pessimistic since Mnangagwa assumed power,” says the poll survey by Gallup.
Mnangagwa and Chamisa will be hoping that Zimbabweans will be swayed by their campaign messages aimed at economic revival as they elect a new administration today. Zimbabwean companies are looking beyond today’s election for an improvement in the operating and monetary framework.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube appointed by Mnangagwa as a non-constituency minister in 2018, is also running for a parliamentary seat in Cowdray Park, Bulawayo where he has splashed on free internet, roads rehabilitation and other programs to attract voters.
After a gruelling period of campaigns across Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces, Mnangagwa – accused by critics of stunting economic growth – told ministers at the last cabinet meeting that they had “exhibited hard work” in the past five years.
He lauded the outgoing ministers, drawn from his ruling Zanu-PF party that their work in the past term had helped boost “industrialisation and modernisation of the economy and upliftment” of livelihoods. In a video posted by information secretary on X, formerly Twitter, Mnangagwa said the Zimbabwe dollar would remain in circulation.
His main rival, Chamisa, told supporters at a campaign rally in Harare that he would do away with the Zimbabwe dollar and introduce the US dollar as a medium of exchange. If elected into office today, Chamisa would also institute wider reforms and unlock Zimbabwe’s investment appeal.
As voting kicks off, more than half of Zimbabweans polled by Gallup say they are confident of the electoral environment, which however, has been slammed as being tilted in favour of Mnangagwa and his ruling party. Corruption in government and business has also been cited as a major worry for Zimbabweans as they vote.
“After allegations of voter intimidation during the 2018 election shook Zimbabweans’ confidence in their elections, they have steadily grown more confident. While this trust dipped slightly last year, the 53% who said they were confident is on the high end,” Gallop explained.