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"It is very important to recognise that this is a historic moment where we will take away the excuse of race and allow people to be judged on their performance. It is time for South Africa to demand the government they deserve, not one that hides behind the race card. We are throwing the race card in the dustbin," Dr Mamphela Ramphele on joining the DA. 

A somewhat chastened Dr Ramphele has just joined the DA about 10 months after she spurned their advances and formed her own political movement. 

What sort of support does she command and who does she bring to the DA?

futurefact finds that 7,6 million South Africans who will be 18 years or over  in 2014 and who live in all but rural areas (37% of adults) have confidence in Dr Ramphele: 1,9 million have complete confidence in her and 5,7 million  some confidence. 7,2 million have no confidence in her and 5,6 million say they don’t know.  So let’s ask two critical questions….

Firstly, does she increase the potential black support base for the DA?  It looks like she does: 43% of black South Africans have confidence in her (5,8m) whereas Helen Zille only attracts 28% confidence from this same group (84% of black South Africans say they intend to vote).

Secondly, where does her support lie within the black community? Where does she attract above average proportions of people who have confidence in her?  It is among women (46%), LSM 7-10 (46%), 25-34 year olds (48%), upper middle and upper classes (47%), metropolitan areas( 46%), large towns (51%), wavering supporters of the ANC (48%), strong supporters of the DA (54%), wavering supporters of the DA (56%) and potential new supporters of the DA (54%). So, it looks like it could be a good decision for both Dr Ramphele and the DA. 

It appears that she enjoys the support of black South Africans who are wavering in their support of the ANC and who are potential new supporters of the DA or DA supporters who were considering seeking alternatives. A recent futurefact finds which examined the decline in support for the ANC http://www.futurefact.co.za/futurefact-finds/anc-20-years-forever reported that: “The ANC has always relied upon the loyalty of its supporters but 19% of strong ANC supporters and 47% of wavering ones said they would no longer feel disloyal if they didn’t vote for the ANC (this amounts to 3,6m potential voters)”. Up to now the DA has battled to attract black support as it has lacked credible black leadership and black South Africans appear to be reluctant to vote for a party they feel is dominated by whites.

Coming at a time when the ANC has apparently squandered its “loyalty factor” through poor leadership and rampant corruption, Dr Ramphele as leader of the DA could effectively prevent the ANC from playing the race card and conceivably offer voters a way-out.

 futurefact has been surveying the attitudes and beliefs of South Africans since 1998. The findings presented above are from futurefact 2013 which is based on a probability sample of 3,025 adults aged 15 years and over, living in communities of more than 500 people throughout South Africa representing 21.6 million adults. If you would like to find out more about futurefact and its extensive attitudinal databases please contact Jos Kuper 082 904 9939 or check out www.futurefact.co.za