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Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma and expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema have both been given the thumbs-down by young respondents questioned in a survey.
Consumer insights company Pondering Panda interviewed 3 857 respondents ranging in age from 18 to 34 last week, asking them to say if they would choose Zuma or Malema as the next president of the country.
Zuma has scored poorly among the youth in recent surveys by the firm, while Malema’s interventions in the emotive Marikana tragedy – in which he has sought to position himself as champion of the miners – appear to have done little to boost his appeal among youth.
Pondering Panda said on Monday that, given the choice between Zuma and Malema for president, respondents had chosen neither.
“When it comes to choosing our next president, Jacob Zuma and Julius Malema are equally unpopular with the majority of SA youth,” said Pondering Panda spokeswoman Shirley Wakefield.
Each had the support of a mere 22 percent of the respondents, while 56 percent rejected both for president.
Wakefield said there were “significant demographic differences in opinion”, particularly in terms of race, age and region.
Young black South Africans were more likely to choose one of the two candidates, with 26 percent selecting Malema, and 25 percent opting for Zuma, she said. However, confidence in both candidates remained low, with one in two black respondents rejecting both.
Other race groups were significantly more likely to reject both candidates, with 89 percent of white and Indian or Asian and 82 percent of coloured respondents preferring neither Zuma nor Malema.
Responses were also related to age, with respondents aged between 18 and 24 more likely to support Malema (25 percent), compared with those aged between 25 and 34 (19 percent). More respondents aged between 25 and 34 preferred Zuma (23 percent).
The strongest support for Zuma was in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal, where 43 percent of the respondents favoured his continued presidency.
Support for Malema was highest in the Northern Cape, where 40 percent of respondents favoured him, and in his home province of Limpopo, 34 percent.
Western Cape youth were most negative about the candidates, with 75 percent of these respondents rejecting both. They were closely followed by Gauteng, Free State and the Eastern Cape, where 60 percent rejected both.
Wakefield said the high percentage of youth who rejected Zuma and Malema was cause for concern.
“It is clear young South Africans are feeling disenfranchised, not only with the current president, but also with [a rival], Julius Malema.”