2014 marks our twentieth year of democracy and the question being asked is whether President Zuma, with his increasingly heavy personal baggage is turning into a serious liability for the ANC as it faces the electorate in 2014?
futurefact’s 2013 survey shows a massive slide in trust and confidence in President Zuma to a score of 37 from a high of 257 five years ago (suggesting that his reception at the Mandela memorial in December 2013 should not have come as too much of a surprise). There is also a threefold increase in the no confidence scores in the President among those who say they are wavering in their support for the ANC (their ‘no confidence' rating moves from 12% five years ago to 31% now).
Confidence in the President has been strongly eroded within the working classes and those who live in informal settlements, as well as among the middle and upper middle classes, many of whom could find a new political home in one of the newer parties. The erosion of confidence in the President has also resulted in an increase from 73% to 87% among those who want the country's President to be chosen by the people not the party. Interestingly the same levels are reflected even among currently strong supporters of the ANC.
This is in marked contrast to Trevor Manuel, Pravin Gordhan and even Cyril Ramaphosa whose trust and confidence scores are dramatically higher than the President's at 227, 193 and 118.
This disaffection with the president has also rubbed on the ruling party. Even though their popularity hasn’t dropped to anything like the same extent, based on the same scoring system, their confidence scores have declined from 147 to 111 between 2012 and 2013, among black South Africans from 302 to 253 and among wavering supporters of the ANC from 263 to 184. So, South Africans love affair with (and blind loyalty to) the ANC, based largely on their struggle credentials and role in the transition to a democratic South Africa may also be taking some strain. In 2013 69% of South Africans felt that the leadership of the ANC no longer care about the people and an even greater indictment 72% (up from 63% in 2011) agreed that the ANC is becoming the enemy of the people.
It is clear the people are asking for a strong leader to emerge to restore order and discipline, based on their disillusionment on a variety of issues, from attitudes to corruption and crime and aspects such as accountability in government.
There is an upside – our faith in the democratic process. Despite the fact that so many have lost confidence in the President and to a lesser extent in the ANC, two thirds of those surveyed (up from 60% in 2011) believe our democracy is strong and will endure.
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.