Seventy percent of Zimbabweans surveyed recently by the Afrobarometer polling institute said they would like to see a new round of elections this year, but most of them also fear that the process will lead to intimidation and violence as seen in the 2008 elections.
The survey of 1,192 Zimbabweans found that while most favor elections in 2011 they do not believe such polls can be free or fair. Only 6 percent favored postponing elections to 2012, while 3 percent said they would prefer to put them off until 2013.
"Most people...perceived declining civil liberties and feared resurgent political violence, yet clear majorities called for constitutional reforms," Afrobarometer said.
ZANU-PF Chief Parliamentary Whip Joram Gumbo said the Afrobarometer survey vindicated his party’s call for new elections to be held by mid-2011.
"This confirms our position as ZANU-PF. It clearly shows that our people are rallying behind us. Elections should be held this year," said Gumbo.
But deputy spokesman Nhlanhla Dube of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara said his party remains opposed to elections this year.
"We question Afrobarometer's findings because what we are seing on the ground is that many people are not in favor of elections this year," Dube commented.
His sentiments were echoed by Thabitha Khumalo, a spokesperson for the MDC wing led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. She told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that her party, like those polled; sees 2011 elections leading to violence.
"It is beyond doubt that there will be violence in the next election. And that is a fear shared by many Zimbabweans," Khumalo said.