The battle for Joburg’s vote

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Copy of ST E302discontent699 (41665733) THE STAR FILE PHOTO: Itumeleng English

Johannesburg - All eyes are on Gauteng this weekend as parties wrap up their campaigns for Wednesday’s all-important general elections.

At stake is a country where at least half of its population are not happy with the state of democracy and at least 10 percent of its voters due to cast their ballots in under a week haven’t decided who they will be voting for.

Tomorrow the DA will be campaigning at the Northgate Coca-Cola Dome.

On Sunday, President Jacob Zuma is set to speak at the Siyanqoba Rally at the FNB Stadium.

And while party leaders speak, a governmental inter-ministerial committee will visit Bekkersdal tomorrow to address simmering tension.

More than half of South Africa’s citizens – 51 percent – are dissatisfied with the state of democracy, according to the findings of the latest South African Social Attitudes Survey undertaken by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) every year since 2003.

Only 28 percent said the country was heading in the right direction, while 66 percent believed it was going in the wrong direction.

It was the lowest recorded level of satisfaction with democracy since the establishment of the series, said Benjamin Roberts, HSRC research specialist.

Roberts said his study had detected a creeping negative mood among the voting age population, and while voter turnout would still be high this year, the abstention numbers were likely to increase.

This could start an alarming trend in the long run, he said.

The main reason for abstention was political disillusionment, Roberts said.

However, he said respondents who were satisfied with the economy were also reasonably happy with the state of democracy.

The survey found that those unhappy with the functioning of the democratic state were equally dissatisfied with economic aspects such as unemployment, personal finances and the cost of living, said Roberts.

“We also looked at those who supported political parties that won or lost an election and found that supporters of the ANC were happier with democracy than those of the opposition parties.”

The number of respondents in each survey from 2003 to last year ranged from 2 500 to 3 300.

For the latest survey, questions were put to a representative sample of 2 885 respondents living in private homes.

The survey found that before the 2004 national and provincial elections 48 percent of the adult population was satisfied with democracy, while 38 percent was dissatisfied.

In the case of those supporting the ruling party, satisfaction levels fell over the decade from 54 percent to 39 percent, while satisfaction declined by 12 percent for those supporting opposition parties.

“This is an important finding because it suggests that citizen satisfaction with the performance of democracy has begun to diminish even for those identifying with the ruling party,” said Roberts.

“It implies that there are mounting concerns about aspects of how the democratic system is working, irrespective of political persuasion.”

Almost four fifths of the adult public (79 percent) agreed that “it is the duty of all citizens to vote”, while 46 percent did not believe their vote would make a difference to electoral outcomes.

Forty-five percent were positive about the power of their vote.

A survey by another political research organisation, Ipsos, earlier found ANC support in Gauteng had dropped below 50 percent, but in recent weeks had managed to climb its way back up to the halfway mark.

The organisation said the Northern and Western Cape and Gauteng would see the most competition between the ANC and DA.

However the ANC said during Thursday’s May Day celebrations that it was confident that the party would secure all nine provinces.

The Star



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