The dramatic decline of Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T) in the July 2013 elections – to 35 per cent of the presidential vote and 23 per cent of parliamentary seats – was first flagged in a series of 2012 public opinion polls. The elections brought to an end a period of power-sharing government and ended all speculation that some form of inclusive government might be retained post-election. The MDC-T’s poor result in Election 2013 followed a decade of valiant resistance against the often underhanded and violent quest by the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) to retain power. Many expected that the MDC-T would continue its upward trajectory and emerge from the period of joint government with a victory over ZANU-PF and be ready to assume power. History unfolded contrarily. The MDC-T’s weaknesses in the transitional period were on display while the economy and people’s living conditions improved, however marginally, and hope for better conditions prevailed. Under the cover of the unity government ZANU-PF was implementing a recovery strategy that entailed both the direct out-manoeuvring of the MDC-T and policy change that appeared to articulate with citizen sentiments. By all opinion poll indications, and as the subsequent election confirmed, Zimbabwean voters gave ZANU-PF the majority. With the use of polling data, the article traces these attitude changes. The main data set is the series of Freedom House (FH) polls of 2009, 2010 and especially 2012. The article also compares the 2012 FH findings with the results of other 2012 polls.


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pp. 53-80
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