Dear Susan Booysen,
I write this letter a disappointed man, but also hope it is a true representation of the feelings of the many starving Zimbabweans currently back home, and of course, those in the diaspora. This is because of your involvement with the Mass Public Opinion Institute that carried out what I believe is a mockery of a real and reliable survey.
I’ve always followed through many of your political analyses which have sometimes proven not only to be objective but prophetic. I’ve also held you in high esteem given that you come from the Witwatersrand University, which I shall continue to respect regardless of your recent negative attitude towards Zimbabwe’s opposition politics.
Given that President Jacob Zuma is currently mediating in the Zimbabwean crisis, your seemingly interfering act as in passing comments and/or professing on a certain survey that includes ZANU(PF) and its opposition parties, is an indirect conflict of interest on its own. Just that the loudest voice came from South Africa may have a negative effect on actual Zimbabweans be it at home or in the diaspora, including the international community. Many may be led to conclude that your words or involvement in the so-called survey reflect the broad and conclusive views and judgements of the South African government, although obviously it may not be the case.
The University of Witwatersrand is widely-perceived as a friend of the weak and powerless, the poor and the opressed, the down-trodden and the underprivileged, the rejected and the neglected, to mention but a few of the many of its shining colours. Now, my view is that the university now chooses to associate itself with loud voices that are louder than the already quietened voices of the poor and oppressed Zimbabweans.
According to recent media reports, the survey was done on 1,198 adults, which I feel cannot be considered a figure at all. With the estimated population around 13million, minus those in the diaspora, Zimbabweans back home could be around 8 to 10 million. This therefore leads me to conclude that this cannot be a true reflection of the minds, thinking and choices of the majority of Zimbabweans.
In the past, there has always been a trend by academics and intellectuals to associate themselves with ZANU(PF), God knows why! Since the majority of Zimbabweans lack the necessary resources to communicate, in particular technology, the notorious regime will applaud any such surveys as an indirect endorsement and assurance on their part. As I write this letter, ZANU(PF) is already celebrating, as the findings have sort of boosted their campaign.
The MPOI survey has caused me considerable damage. I have begun to lose hope in Zimbabwean opposition politics due to these findings. I’ve now told myself that my family back home will never see any change of government because of pronouncements by a respected, motherly figure. My knees and elbows are now weak even for prayer as I believe an academic has spoken. I’ve begun thinking hard and meditating into the future, uncertain if my whole life will be spent away from home, since somebody from the widely-respected and loved University of Witwatersrand has spoken.
If you go deeper and rethink the small figure that was sampled, you will change your mind and start to side with the poor. If you put yourself in the shoes of the struggling women and children, you will surely rerun your survey. If you reread the numerous developments pertaining to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, you will finally conclude that the so-called survey was nothing but a tour of the 100 areas mentioned in the survey. It is these malacts by (we)Africans that we will continue to tail the West when it comes to polls or surveys.
Given that this is Women’s Month, I suggest you should have waited pronouncing on the controversial findings. As a motherly figure, I think you did injustice by associating yourself with the survey that has already been rejected by most Zimbabweans. The huge outcry exceeds the tiny misrepresentation in the survey, which needs no rocket scientist to prove otherwise.
It will be in the interest of the poor for you to clarify whether or not you participated in that survey, on whose behalf you spoke about the survey, and also tell us your actual feelings about the opposition support in Zimbabwe, not in any way related to any survey. An apology to all suffering Zimbabweans will do you no harm at all.
Once again, given that this is Women’s Month, your public apology will make you emerge as one of the most influential and powerful women of the century – who defied all odds by choosing to side with the poor.
A Zimbabwean living in Durban