This is an open letter to MDC concerning their dismissal of the recently published Freedom House Survey carried out by Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI). The survey showed a decrease in popularity for the MDC, and on the other hand it showed that ZANU PF support was on the increase. The MDC party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora was quick to dismiss the results as ‘defective’, instead suggesting that the survey was done in ZANU PF strongholds where MDC supporters feared persecution.
It’s one thing not to like the results, but quite another to question the methodology. Surveys are based on respondents’ opinions, carefully sampled, and in the case of this survey people feel that ZANU PF is doing a better job and who are we to argue about that. The task of serious political parties that have an agenda of setting up a government is to become national in outlook and command support even in the so-called “strong-holds” of other contenders. The survey should however be treated as good news for both MDC and ZANU PF because it gives both parties the opportunity for the leadership to carry out an introspection exercise to assess their performance ahead of any election: nearly half of the respondents don’t seem to like either party! For ZANU PF perhaps their assessment would be thumbs up to their current programmes to regain power from the MDC. As for the MDC this should be a wakeup call for the leadership that they are sleeping on the job and have reneged on the promise to the electorate.
MDC’s stance resembles that of ZANU PF when these survey results were first conducted in Zimbabwe before the 2000 elections. Jonathan Moyo dismissed the results as ‘self-seeking prophecies’, perhaps because of his personal differences with the late Masipula Sithole (the then executive director of MPOI). In spite of ZANU PF’s dismissal of these results, the electoral trend was not far off the mark from the survey results, giving credibility to the survey process. In fact the survey ahead of the 2008 elections was confirmed by the results with MDC garnering more seats than ZANU PF for the first time since independence. To then start questioning the methodology and giving all sorts of excuses is hardly the way to go if MDC is serious about controlling the next Parliament or forming the next government.
It would be wiser for the MDC leadership to embrace the Freedom House survey and take the necessary steps to convince the electorate that they are the better party. They cannot continue to cry foul because they are also part of government and should also shoulder the blame. Taking responsibility and taking action to correct the situation is the kind of leadership Zimbabweans need, whether coming from ZANU PF, either faction of the MDC or Mavambo.