Vox Pops: Why we love Mugabe

While Mugabe is perceived to be unpopular, he still has many supporters.

Sinoua Vox pop
Mugabe supporters hope the 89-year-old will win his eighth term in office [Azad Essa/Al Jazeera]

Harare, Zimbabwe –  In spite of the difficulties created by economic mismanagement, sanctions, and political isolation experienced by the majority of Zimbabweans over the past decade, there remains tangible support here for Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party.

As is the case of all revolutionary and liberation movements across the continent, supporters cite “freedom”, “independence” and ZANU-PF’s steadfast “opposition to imperial forces” as reasons for their loyalty. There remains a striking narrative of Mugabe standing up to western hypocrisy, with the opposition leadership painted as puppets of the west.

Political rallies are, by their nature, ambitious creatures – supporters bused in, often fed, given clothes and sometimes money – designed to boost the ego of party leadership and feed the ravenous hunger of foreign media. 

On Sunday, thousands of ZANU-PF supporters, dressed in yellow and white party paraphernalia, emboldened with the triple party campaign slogan of “indigenise, empower, develop and create employment” came to endorse what many describe as Mugabe’s final electoral rally.

The 89-year-old is running for his eighth term in office since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.

As evidence of the past few months suggest, this will be a close contest between ZANU-PF and the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai – and despite the talk of change, there will be many, many Zimbabweans casting their ballot in favour of Mugabe.

Al Jazeera spoke with ZANU-PF supporters about their unrelenting romance with Robert Mugabe.

Godfrey Maara, 58 

Godfrey Maara [Azad Essa/Al Jazeera]

“We have supported our president since the war of liberation because he led us to victory.

“To us he is a God-given leader; he is a gift to Zimbabwe and all of Africa because there is no one like him. He is an incomparable figure and everything he does is through God.

“If we perish because things are difficult then we will all perish together, we are one family. If we cannot eat and we have to eat sand because of sanctions, then that is what we will do.

“Against the West, Mugabe is like David versus Goliath, we believe he has the wisdom of David, so God will guide him through the battle. As for the future, God will choose someone from the young ones here today, but they must learn from Mugabe so they can lead us tomorrow.”

Sinoia Chiwora, 38 

Sinoia Chiwora  [Azad Essa/Al Jazeera]

“ZANU-PF have done a lot for us, they built schools and gave us houses to live.

“In the rural areas, they gave us land to farm, unlike in the time of the white man, when we had nothing.”






Agnes Musazura, 53 

Agnes Musazura [Azad Essa/Al Jazeera]

“ZANU-PF reflects the will of the people; we have our freedom because of President Mugabe.

“British life was tough, it was an oppressive system and Black people were not free – not free at all. They wouldn’t allow us to walk in the town centre, we weren’t allowed to drink alcohol, and instead we drank the traditional brew, masese.

“They put us on reserves and gave us rocky land to farm, so we had fight and take our land back. Now we are free, we are not orphans in this land.

“We hope to win on Wednesday, MDC is playing, and they will not defeat us.”

Ronika Svosve, 54 

Ronika Svosve  [Azad Essa/Al Jazeera]

“ZANU-PF has looked after us; our orphans are able to go school and we, the elderly, can go to the hospital and get treated for free because we are pensioners.

“We do not worry about the future, because in ZANU-PF we are in the house of our father and mother.”





Alice Kandierwa, 20 

Alice Kandierwa [Azad Essa/Al Jazeera]

“I support ZANU-PF because I was raised in a house that supports ZANU-PF.

“In 2000, my mother was given a farm in Darwendale and she grows maize whenever she can get fertiliser. Without the Mugabe government she wouldn’t have that land.

“Because of that, I am going to raise my children to support ZANU-PF.”




Patience Mukuwu, 22 

Patience Mukuwu [Azad Essa/Al Jazeera]

“I was raised in family that supports ZANU-PF and they developed my home area.

“Before the liberation war, there were no schools and no hospitals in Macheke, but when we got independence, schools and clinics were built by the government.

“Now, the government gives support to the needy and donors give aid by sending orphaned children to school, while ZANU-PF gives food aid to children in need.

“My parents were given land in Macheke by the government in 2000. They grow maize and tobacco on their farm and they are able to earn a living. ZANU-PF made this possible, so I will always support them.”

Noah Matsika, 40 

Noah Matsika [Azad Essa/Al Jazeera]

“[MDC chief Morgan] Tsvangirai is lying about the cause of Zimbabwe’s crisis in the 2000s. He was seeking power and, with the backing of outside forces, he tried to destabilise things in the country.

“He caused people to rebel and, with the help of his friends, he created the crisis – because Tsvangirai wanted power.

“They tried to influence things politically, but they failed, Mugabe is still our leader. Tsvangirai claims there is rigging of the vote, but there is no rigging.

“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has the answers to all the questions he asks. Since independence, the ZEC have run so many elections and they have ensured there has been no cheating in the past, so the MDC’s claims of rigging are not true.

“Tsvangirai is afraid of defeat, but he is a man in the fighting box so he must fight, not look for reasons to explain why he was defeated.”

Tabeth Taonezvi, 46 

Tabeth Taonezvi [Azad Essa/Al Jazeera]

“MDC has no chance of winning, they will not rule.

“The people don’t want Tsvangirai as president because he is a vulgar man and he supports homosexuality. He wants to create a country where a woman can sleep with another woman – but as Zimbabweans, we will never allow that.

“Also, Tsvangirai has other forces behind him, he is an agent of the whites, but we removed them with our fists during the liberation struggle and we can do it again.

“Now Zimbabwe is a free country and we want a leader capable of leading us on their own, a black man who is not an agent of others.

“My relatives and I were given land in Epworth by the government in 2002 and we divided the land into sections where we grow maize, tobacco and soya beans.

“We hope ZANU-PF will win by a big margin and defeat MDC-T for good on Wednesday.”

Forward Chinovura, 36 

Forward Chinovura  [Azad Essa/Al Jazeera]

“We came to hear our president speak.

“People were not forced to come, and the crowd is mostly from Harare – they weren’t bused in from somewhere else. We came here at 4am using our own financial resources, using public transport. 

“Others were already here when we came and we waited together until they opened the gates at 6:30am.

“Some people came through free buses, but many of us here found our own transport, nobody forced us. We came because we wanted to hear our leader speak. 

“We are strengthened and uplifted by his words, and on Wednesday we will vote for our party.”


Follow Tendai Marima and Azad Essa on Twitter.

Source: Al Jazeera

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