Cape Town - The ANC and the DA are neck and neck as they polled 26% and 28% respectively in the Western Cape. This as the ANC, under President Cyril Ramaphosa, has made a dramatic recovery in terms of voter support ahead of next year’s general elections.
According to market research and consulting firm Ipsos, the party’s support has rocketed to 60% since Ramaphosa took over from his predecessor Jacob Zuma. This came as no surprise, as another Ipsos poll found in May that almost two-thirds (63%) of voters believed the country was going in the right direction under Ramaphosa.
In its latest Pulse of the People study, Ipsos said that out of 3 000 randomly selected South Africans, 60% supported the ANC. The DA and EFF came second (13%) and EFF (7%) third. The survey also found that the ANC and the DA were neck and neck in the Western Cape, where they polled 26% and 28% respectively.
Mari Harris, Ipsos director of public affairs, said it appeared South Africans were moving past the era of the ANC that was led by Zuma. The Ipsos report around this time last year showed the ANC support base at 45%. “The Ramaphosa factor is big because suddenly there is a leader that people trust and can look up to. If you look at our results after Cyril’s 100 days, there is a lot of trust expressed in the new president, and people are willing to give him a chance,” Harris said.
Antonia Squara, research manager at Ipsos, told Independent Media that when they conducted the same survey last year, the country was a bit concerned about the leadership and the future. “We saw the results were quite negative all round regarding all aspects of living in South Africa.”
But things had changed, as people were now generally happy. “Ramaphoria has impacted on South Africans and we are a lot more positive,” she added.
The survey results were released days after Ramaphosa hit out at his critics who viewed him as weak and indecisive. Last week, Ramaphosa was in the Middle East on an investment drive to raise $100billion (R1.33trillion) in the next five years. Political analyst Professor Somadoda Fikeni said the average person might have been impressed as Ramaphosa - unlike Zuma - was not limping from one crisis to the other around personal matters.
“They may have seen Ramaphosa's efforts to build social cohesion in a very difficult moment. They realise that he is not the cause of some of the negative things which are unfolding and that he is making an effort,” Fikeni said.
He viewed the survey as just some of the emerging trends and said it could not be used as a prediction of the outcome of next year’s elections. “Parties like the ANC tend to be stronger towards the end of the (election) campaign, having experienced all sorts of problems... and are able to pick up in the last three months,” Fikeni added.
Squara said the election in the Western Cape could be very interesting. “The DA has been having internal issues. There has been a lot of negative press around them in recent times. It makes people quite a bit uncertain, so there are various factors that we see in the ANC getting stronger.”
The survey was conducted while the DA was embroiled in infighting with City of Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille. “Whether that will reflect in actual polls we cannot say,” Squara added.
DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi said: “Everything we are doing is to make sure that we retain the Western Cape and we become the majority party in Gauteng and the Northern Cape.”
ANC provincial spokesperson Yonela Diko said the survey results were in line with their own research and other research done by other academics. Diko credited the combination of Ramaphoria and the perception of the DA because of its internal squabbles around the handling of the removal of De Lille and other mayors.
He added that their election machinery had been oiled to ensure they consolidate the gains. “We brought in Ebrahim Rasool (former Western Cape premier, and current ANC election head), who has a history of winning and governance. Many people who used to be disillusioned within the ANC are part of election structures,” Diko said.