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Early Poll Gives Zimbabwe Ruling Party An Edge Over Its Opposition

A political poll released this week by the Mass Public Opinion Institute of Zimbabwe found that 33% of Zimbabweans support the ruling ZANU-PF party over the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, backed by 21% of poll respondents.

But the poll takers acknowledged the survey was conducted mainly in the rural areas where support for the ruling party is strongest - as is its local political muscle.

The Mass Public Opinion Institute said that of 1,202 voters polled in April, 33% favored ZANU-PF, 21% backed the MDC faction led by party founder Morgan Tsvangirai, and a mere 1% expressed support for the MDC faction of Arthur Mutambara.

The remaining 45 percent were undecided or refused to state their preference. The institute said all those interviewed in the survey were 18 years of age or older.

Institute Director Eldred Masunungure, a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, said poll takers did not inquire into the reasons why voters supported one party or another, in order not to cause apprehension among those surveyed.

Masunungure speculated that voter frustration with the MDC explained the tilt toward the ruling party, and that most of those polled live in rural areas.

Senior Progams Manager Pedzisai Ruhanya of the Crisis In Zimbabwe Coalition took issue with the findings, telling reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that voters are equally frustrated with the ruling party.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...