Julius Malema's 'favourability' plunges as ANC infighting also takes its toll

EFF leader Julius Malema's public rating has dropped from 30% at the end of 2018 to 25% now, according to a survey.
EFF leader Julius Malema's public rating has dropped from 30% at the end of 2018 to 25% now, according to a survey.

A growing dissatisfaction with SA’s politicians and political parties in general since the May general elections is evident in a new survey on public opinion - with clear warning signs for the ruling party.

Opposition EFF leader Julius Malema has suffered a setback too - his favourability rating has dropped lower than Jacob Zuma’s was when the former president quit amid a tangle of corruption scandals.

This is according to data from marketing and social research consultancy, Citizen Surveys.

The latest South African Citizens Survey (SACS) quarterly data for April-June 2019, released on Tuesday, reveals that, in the past nine months Malema has seen a steady drop in favourability from a high of 30% in the last four months of 2018 to 25% currently – a considerable drop of five percentage points (or 16%).

Malema’s current favourability rating is one percentage point lower than that of Zuma upon his resignation in early 2018, which was 26%, noted Citizen Surveys.

Prior to the election period, in the last four months of 2018, Malema’s favourability was one percentage point lower than DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s (29%). Maimane’s rating has held steady over two quarters of this year at 28%.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s favourability ratings initially declined from the 64% highs of "Ramaphoria" in the second quarter of 2018, to 55% in the last quarter of 2018 "as the extent of state capture became known," Citizen Surveys said. However, the current quarter's data shows that his favourability has since risen to 62%. This is his second- highest favourability score since becoming state president.

"This indicates that he emerged largely unscathed from the March Eskom crisis and, subsequent to the May 8 national and provincial elections, has received a popular mandate in order to address the most important problems facing South Africans - unemployment, crime, corruption and poverty," said Citizen Surveys.

Reza Omar, strategic research director at Citizen Surveys, commented: “Comparing and analysing quarterly data affords us the ability to gauge how the public is feeling over a three-month period that covers significant events, for example, the elections and the state of the nation address. Both of these events occurred in the second quarter of 2019 and saw Ramaphosa considered in a very favourable manner.”

The latest June and July 2019 SACS monthly data also analyses the most recent changes in the favourability rating of key ANC political leaders.

When comparing perceptions towards the ANC top brass, the monthly data show some significant drops (five percentage points on average) in their favourability ratings in June and July 2019. Specifically:

● Ramaphosa has enjoyed the highest favourability rating; however, his rating dropped by 2 percentage points from 64% in June to 62% in July.

● Finance minister Tito Mboweni enjoyed the second-highest favourability rating of 35% in June which subsequently dropped in July to 29%.

● Considering how public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan dominated headlines in July during his public legal battle against public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, it’s "little surprise" to see his favourability drop from 31% in June to a low of 26% in July.

● Gordhan is still, however, favoured higher than deputy president David Mabuza, whose favourability also fell by five percentage points from 26% in June to 21% in July.

● Beleaguered ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has the lowest favourability among the ANC top brass, having declined from 16% in June to 11% in July.

Said Omar, “The significant drop in favourability ratings among the ANC top brass of five percentage points in only one month should raise concern in the party. The South African public has clearly indicated that the in-fighting and ongoing public court battles are reducing their confidence in the ruling party.”