Quo Vadis Tsvangirai?

As Zimbabwe prepares to choose a new president this year in long-awaited elections, voters are increasingly questioning the erstwhile opposition, the only serious challenger to the tight grip Mr. Mugabe and his party, ZANU-PF, have held on this nation for decades. Mr. Tsvangirai’s underdog movement has long been the vessel of millions of Zimbabweans’ hopes for a more democratic, peaceful and prosperous future in what was once one of Africa’s most stable and wealthy nations. But four years of governing alongside Mr. Mugabe — and in some ways, analysts say, being co-opted by him and his allies — has taken a toll on its reputation. The disenchantment was evident in a survey last year conducted for Freedom House, a watchdog group based in the United States, that found support for Mr. Tsvangirai’s party had fallen to 20 percent from 38 percent two years earlier among voters who declared a preference. By contrast, support for ZANU-PF — the party that clung to power by beating, torturing and intimidating thousands in the last election in 2008 — grew to 31 percent last year from 17 percent in 2010, the survey found, though some analysts noted that an unusually high number of people declined to respond, probably out of fear.

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