Report : Are Zimbabweans Polarised

Are Zimbabweans Polarised

Afrobarometer surveys on Zimbabwe frequently run into criticism about both the methodology and the findings. This was the case with the public release of the Round 7 (2017) survey results. A particular bone of contention was what to make of apparently contradictory findings. For example, participants were confused by the findings that a majority of Zimbabweans both trust and fear the President, Robert Mugabe. This confusion was driven apparently by a failure to appreciate the limitations of quantitative research. The methodological confusion was answered by the Afrobarometer itself (Howard & Logan. 2017), but another issue emerged from the criticism. This was more interesting, and we hypothesized that this might derive from the actual knowledge base of the critics. It raised the question about whether the critics were as informed about the views and opinions of the Zimbabwean polity as they claimed. It led us to speculate that the critics were an “elite”, and, as such, more detached from the reality of public opinion than they knew. There was some basis for this hypothesis derived from an earlier study that suggested the middle class was composed of “disconnected democrats” (RAU. 2015).

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