Study: More non-voters than ANC supporters

2014-01-20 00:00

SOUTH Africans who can vote but chose not to now outnumber the ranks of ANC’s supporters.

The market research company Ipsos said 43,4% of South Africans who were 18 years and older did not vote in the national elections in 2009.

In the same year, 37,3% or 31,7 million South Africans eligible to vote had voted for the ANC.

This represented a substantial drop on the 65,9% votes for the ANC in 2009 and shows fewer than four in 10 voters had made their cross for the party.

The number of non-voters had also increased from just 14,5% in 1994 to 43,4% in 2009.

The numbers of non-voters exceeded the number of ANC voters for the first time in 2004.

Ipsos director Mari Harris attributes the growing number of people who can but do not vote to a disillusionment with the ANC government.

She said the number of non-voters will be the highest yet this year. He said many of these people were disappointed by the ANC, but could not vote for other parties because of historic reasons or abiding party loyalty.

Harris said people often look at the 65,9% of the ballot that the ANC won in 2009 but forget to count the millions who had not registered or who did not get to the ballot box.

“People in South Africa do not vote for another party to protest, they stay away in protest,” Harris said.

Theo Venter, a political analyst at North West University, said may eligible voters also did not vote because they were simply not interested.

An Ipsos survey showed about 35% of all South Africans are not interested in politics.

“The ANC’s poor service delivery makes people cynical about politics,” said Venter.

Although South Africa’s voter turn-out is relatively high compared to Western countries, the total number of those eligible who voted dropped from 85,5% in 1994 to 56,5% in 2009. In 1994, over half (53,6%) of the votes went to the ANC, but this has gradually dropped to 37,3% in 2009.

Venter said this shows the ANC’s credibility is waning.

“The NP [National Party] also gradually lost its support from 1977 to 1989 … The ANC’s trend is down. If the ANC does not do something dramatic to improve its image, it will probably not survive the post-Mandela era.”

ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza said the party was aware that more eligible voters were staying away from the polls.

“It is an international trend, but we are saying to South Africans: ‘Your right to vote did not come cheap, people died for it, it is your responsibility to vote’.”

He said the ANC are campaigning on several fronts, visiting universities and colleges and using social media to get people to vote in this year’s elections.

The date for elections still has to be announced.

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