The issue of state responsiveness has recently become a matter for investigation by social scientists, and even the UN in a large survey. The concern is to understand whether governments really understand what their citizens want and expect of them, a not trivial question when the value of elections in holding governments accountable and responsive.

The question about what citizens expect their governments to deal with was asked in all Afrobarometer surveys in Africa since 1999. We were concerned in the present study with “honesty” and “responsiveness”, issues that most citizens see as important, but Zimbabweans place in fifth place, after the more obvious issues around the economy and various livelihood issues.

Using the Afrobarometer data from Round 7 (2017), we constructed an index for “state responsiveness”, and tested this against a range of other indicators - Lived Poverty, Service Availability, Service Delivery, Active Citizenship, Perception of Democracy, and Political Trust.

There were no differences according to gender: male and females have the same views on all the indices. However, there were differences due to age. Interestingly, younger Zimbabweans saw that there was good service availability, but not so service delivery. Older Zimbabweans were distinguished by having higher Social Capital and greater Political Trust. However, the big difference was between rural and urban Zimbabweans, with the former seeing the state providing good Service Delivery and being responsive. Rural respondents also had greater Political Trust and higher Social Capital than their urban counterparts.

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