ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. Picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

Johannesburg - The African National Congress has slammed a national survey that showed its secretary-general Ace Magashule and opposition Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema were less popular than President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The latest SA Citizens survey released this week indicated that Magashule was the least liked in the ANC, disliked by nine out of ten people. 

The ANC said its leaders were there to unite the nation and were not in a popularity contest.

"The research appears to have some ulterior motives of lending credence to a known agenda of abusing experimentation for sheer academic credence and peddling of lies with divisive intentions," the governing party said in a statement on Thursday.

"This latest salvo is also an attempt to isolate ANC secretary-general, comrade  Ace Magashule and further cast imaginary doubt on his abilities. The secretary-seneral is part of the leadership collective as elected at the 54th national conference and not in any popularity contest. Our renewal and unity project demands that we all stay vigilant against wedge-drivers."

Despite economic woes and rising unemployment, President Ramaphosa's popularity was highest among leaders at 62 percent in the second quarter of 2019, up from 55 percent in fourth quarter of 2018.

Malema's popularity fell from 30 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018 to 25 percent. His popularity was a percentage point lower than that of former president Jacob Zuma which was at 26 percent when he resigned in 2018. Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane's favourability dipped slightly from 29 percent to 28 percent.

The survey has been conducted on a quarterly basis since 2015. The latest data was conducted through face-to face interviews conducted with 3 900 respondents.

African News Agency/ANA