Survey shows President Cyril Ramaphosa still popular, but losing SONA spark
Johannesburg - Interest and positive sentiment about President Cyril Ramaphosa and his State of the Nation Address was on a downward spiral, recently released survey data showed.
The research was conducted by Citizen Surveys and the South African Citizens Survey, who conducted just over 1 300 face-to-face interviews in English, isiZulu, isiXhosa, Afrikaans, SeSotho, Sepedi, and Setswana.
President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver his fourth SONA since he took over the reigns from former president Jacob Zuma two years ago.
Zuma not be in attendance yet again, but former presidents FW de Klerk, Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe, are all expected to attend.
The survey showed that interest in February 2019’s SONA was at 48% (or 18.2 million), with people watching, reading or listening to the address.
When Ramaphosa had his second SONA in June, interest had declined to 17.2 million, or 45%.
Sentiment around the SONA was also on a downward spiral.
In the February SONA, 63% (or 11.3 million) felt that the address had a positive effect, while 26% (4.8 million) felt it had no effect and 11% (2 million) felt it had a negative effect.
By June, only 55% (9.4 million) felt Ramaphosa’s address was positive, a sharp decline from the 63% (11.3 million) in the February address.
Those who felt the president’s address in June had no effect also increased to 33% (5.7 million), from 26% (4.8 million) in February.
Those who had a negative effect after the president’s address increased slightly to 12% (2 million).
“From these results, it is clear that the June 2019 SONA had less of an inspirational effect on the nation than the February SONA,” said Reza Omar, a strategic research director at Citizen Surveys.
The survey showed that South Africans strongly agreed that delivering education was an area of priority for the Ramaphosa administration.
Education, which saw at least eight out of 10 agree that it was an area of priority, was a clear priority compared to ending hunger, creating employment for two million young South Africans, building a bullet train between Joburg and Cape Town, building a new city and a claim that the economy would grow at a faster rate, which were all under six out 10 agreeing with the statement.
The president’s claim that violent crime would be halved, was the least believable, with 51% agreeing with the statement.
But despite Ramaphosa suffering some speed bumps with his last SONA, he was by far still South Africa’s most popular politician, with an approval rating of 61%.
He was followed at a distant second, by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, with 33%, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, 28%, EFF leader Julius Malema, 26%, Deputy President David Mabuza, 24%, and 15% for the DA’s interim leader, John Steenhuisen.
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashula had a favourable rating of just 13%.
South Africans were asked who was to blame for the Eskom crisis, which has caused painstaking loadshedding for citizens across the length and breathe of the country.
The majority blamed Eskom leadership for not doing their jobs properly - 31% or 12 million.
The second popular answer was to blame the municipalities who had accrued billions in debt for the power utility - 24% or 9 million.
More people blamed the government, at 21% (or 8.9 million), then they blamed the ANC - at 7% (or 2.9 million).
Another 7% (or 2.8 million) blamed former president Jacob Zuma.
“In November and December 2019 when South Africans were asked who is to blame for the Eskom crisis. 31% said that it was Eskom’s leadership that did not do their jobs properly, followed by the municipalities that didn’t pay Eskom its money on time (24%). Government, State Capture, the ANC and ex-President Zuma were also blamed for the crisis,” said Omar.
And when South Africans were asked what were three of the most important issues facing the country currently, unemployment, at 75%, topped the list, followed by crime, at 33%, corruption at 26%, poverty, at 20%, and housing, at 18%.