(Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe’s biggest opposition party would win a free and fair election, according to one of the first surveys to be released ahead of a vote expected from July this year. 

Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the Citizens Coalition for Change, would garner 53% of ballots, while his party would get 52% in a separate parliamentary vote, the survey conducted by the Sabi Strategy Group and released on Wednesday showed. President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front would both win 40% of votes.

Still, every Zimbabwean election since 2000 has been marred by violence and allegations of vote rigging and 47% of those surveyed said they don’t expect the election to be free and fair. In 2000, the Movement for Democratic Change, from which the CCC later splintered, narrowly lost to Zanu-PF, then led by Robert Mugabe, who was ousted in a coup in 2017. 

The survey also showed that the electorate doesn’t agree with government policies. The government has forged strong ties with China and Russia, routinely criticizes the European Union, UK and US for their imposition of sanctions on some politicians in Zimbabwe because of political violence and has abstained on United Nations votes condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Emigration Desire

Of foreign powers, the UK and EU were the most favored by those surveyed, the US and South Africa less so and China and Russia were the least popular. Russia’s attack on Ukraine was condemned by 58% of those surveyed.

Three-fifths of participants blame Zanu-PF, which has been in power since independence in 1980, for the country’s two-decade economic crisis, which has seen its currency slump, bouts of hyperinflation, the emigration of millions of citizens and regular shortages of fuel. Asked if they would leave Zimbabwe immediately if they could, 46% said yes.

The Sabi survey was commissioned by the Brenthurst Foundation, a Johannesburg-based research organization funded by the Oppenheimer family. Ernest Oppenheimer formed the company that is now Anglo American Plc in Johannesburg in 1917. Nicholas Oppenheimer, Ernest’s grandson, is worth $8.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, making him the second-richest South African.

The poll of 1,000 registered voters was conducted by phone and had a 4% margin of error.

--With assistance from Desmond Kumbuka.

(Updates with Mugabe being ousted in 2017 coup in third paragraph)

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