By Takura Zhangazha^
The Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI)* this week published its latest Afrobarometer report for Zimbabwe. This November 2014 opinion survey found that 63%of adult Zimbabweans have a pessimistic view about the direction in which the country is headed. Especially where citizens were asked about what they view as the economic outlook. It also found that 43% of those that participated in the survey are of the view that the economy or living conditions will deteriorate further.
This important survey also has further aggregated data based on geographical location, gender and age in relation to Zimbabweans’ perceptions of their living conditions. These include the extent to which they access health, water, money and education.
A number of other issues that stand out in the survey is that there is little support for the current government indigenization policy and that the youth are primarily worried about unemployment while the elderly are concerned about access to health and education.
The significance of this recent survey cannot be understated. MPOI and the Afrobarometer opinion are credible and scientific institutions. In one of their last surveys prior to the July 2013 harmonized election, they had indicated that it was most likely that the ruling Zanu Pf Party will sweep to victory much to the chagrin of the opposition. That particular survey turned out to be closer to the truth when the results were announced.
So the reality is that, at the moment, we are a generally a pessimistic nation. Especially where and when it comes to the national economy or the possibility of our livelihoods improving. It’s a bitter pill for all of us to swallow. Even if there will be loud denial from the ruling party and government apparatchiks.
The key question is how do we rekindle hope of the people in their own country. It first of all begins with the political leadership. Particularly those in government and with proximity to power that cane effect change. If, for once, they were to take their responsibilities with greater seriousness and less partisanship, the country would always have hope. At least in the fact that they have leaders who not only listen but act concertedly to address the difficult living conditions we are all facing.
Unfortunately at the moment the opposite is true. We have a leadership that is in the throes of factional politics across the political divide and one that continues to laud its past as what we should accept as success. Economic blueprints are generally more for the demonstration of appearing to have a plan even if they are inorganic and a dangerous framework for elitist state capitalism.
Secondly we have to all eventually be responsible in finding solutions to our current circumstances. Where we have seen that government is not fulfilling its social contract we must bring it to account. In the most non-partisan way possible. Representative organizations outside of government, also known as civil society, must try as best they can to shake off assumptions of loyalty to those in power or political office and address key issues directly. This would include taking on the political economic challenges not just in the moment but for posterity.
For example, it would be prudent to query the hastened pace of privatization of water, health services and education provision under the guise of public private partnerships. It may appear workable on the surface but its end effect is denial of access by the majority poor (also read as the pessimistic 63%).
Thirdly , the media as the fourth estate must also begin to transform itself to reflect more than the infighting in the ruling and opposition political establishments. While the print media is in a slump due to the dire state of the economy, there is still need to bravely report on key issues that are affecting the people. This would entail that media owners balance their profit motive with the public interest role that the fourth estate plays in a democratic society.
Journalists too have to protect the public integrity of their profession in the most trying of economic circumstances by demonstrating that they do not always follow the money but more the public and democratic interest of society. In the current circumstances, propaganda only works to entrench the pessimism and powerlessness of the people.
To conclude, this latest Afrobarometer/MPOI survey’s findings are scientific testament to the fact that apart from the sloganeering, by elections and political factionalism, all is not well with the people Zimbabwe. The pessimism that is currently afflicting the country is both as real as it is a call to collective action. We are all in this together, even if some among us will be in denial of the reality that confronts us. And it is only all of us, whatever our stations in life, working together that we can find the silver lining in the dark clouds that hover over the country.
^Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (takura-zhangazha.blogspot.com)
*For further information on the Afrobarometer survey please contact Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI), Stephen Ndoma, Telephone: (04)771358, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org