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Support for Mugabe, ZANU-PF Plunges

Support for both President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party has plunged since formation of a unity government with the Movement for Democratic Change six months ago. Full results of a key public opinion survey will be released in the next few weeks.

Less than 10 percent of adults would vote for Mr. Mugabe or his party, ZANU-PF, if elections were held now according to preliminary results of two surveys conducted after the unity government was sworn into power.

The 86-year-old Mr. Mugabe lost about 20 percent of support since last year's elections in which former opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, now prime minister, easily beat him.

Information that has been leaked from the two recent public opinion surveys, shows that Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF is reduced to the size of a relatively minor opposition party.

A survey conducted by the Mass Public Opinion Institute, which accurately predicted election results over the last ten years, sent pollers, for the first time, deep into Mr. Mugabe's rural strongholds.

A second survey, commissioned a month later in May appears to have confirmed the results.

The full results of the polls are expected to be formally released in the coming weeks.

Eldred Masunungure, director of the MPOI, and a senior lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, says he could not yet comment on the findings. But he did say the survey covered a wide range of opinions about many subjects beyond politics, and analysis was not yet complete.

Nevertheless, key information about Mr. Mugabe's drop in popularity has been leaked from various sources.

The main conclusions in the survey found that Mr. Mugabe and ZANU-PF would both be lucky to score 10 percent in any free and fair election held today.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC now have about 57 percent support, the remaining third of those surveyed were still undecided.

"Even if all 'don't knows' voted for Mugabe then Tsvangirai and MDC would easily win any election," one senior researcher involved in the survey said this week.

Veteran Zimbabwe political analyst Brian Raftopoulos said the results of the survey "confirms the continuing breakdown and erosion of ZANU-PF's support as the party of the liberation war which ended white rule in 1980."

He said ZANU-PF 's only power was state power, and that the party was presently fighting desperately to hold on to that power.

The Southern African Development Community pushed for an inclusive government to end the political stale mate after Mr. Tsvangirai pulled out of the second round of the presidential election in June last year citing ZANU-PF violence against his supporters.

Many senior MDC leaders say ZANU-PF ministers in the inclusive government daily undermine progress towards reconstruction of the economy and governance.

Several top ZANU-PF leaders did not answer calls for comment Monday. Mr. Mugabe is out of Zimbabwe on a week's holiday.