A study conducted by survey company Ipsos in November this year revealed that over half (55%) of the general public felt President Zuma was doing his job very well or fairly well, while 68% of ANC supporters felt Zuma was doing well or very well.
The support for President Zuma was strong despite the fact that only 39% of South Africans currently thought the country was going in the right direction, down seven percent from 46% in May.
Readers invariably frown when they read these results and many ask themselves why the president still enjoys the support he does. Many people also ask themselves why the ANC still enjoys political support.
The reasons for the support can only be assumed and derived from public behavior as no such survey had been done.
President Zuma’s popularity and that of the ANC is fundamentally driven by aspirations and beliefs inspired by the social and economic inequalities in South Africa and the resonance of rebellions and upheavals in ancient societies in Africa and elsewhere.
The people who have been supporting Zuma since 2008 and the ANC for much longer were not disappointed or swayed by the recent public revelations of mal-administration and misuse of public funds in government. They ignore it as deeds of expediency in a world of bureaucracy and greed.
They firmly believe that white capitalists are still active as the covert architects and custodians of a socio-economic firewall between whites and other races in South Africa and that officials are victims of corruption and fronting.
In their view this firewall cannot be penetrated or destroyed because the constitution, economic structures, policies and laws protect and uphold it. The Marikana tragedy and subsequent uprisings in the mining and other sectors revealed to supporters who wields the real economic power in South Africa.
Their life force is the hope and belief that someday a forceful radical savior with public appeal will change things. It will be someone who has nothing to loose should he or she try and fail to transform society. These supporters don’t want to be restrained by a code of moral excellence. They want someone who will instill and nurture expedience that favors the poor. A pragmatist, who will do what needs to be done to clear the path to economic freedom, the dream of liberation from the ownership, exploitation and demeaning control of rich capitalists.
In their view the best candidate to make this happen is the current president. The supporters of Jacob Zuma and the ANC are not scouting for an unblemished and untarnished prophet to lead them to freedom. They want someone who will do what is necessary to change their lives. Someone, who can be trusted to remove the laws, dogmas, codes, values and structures that divide and layer society.
People are not ignorant and uninformed. They are connected. Millions watch TV, read, listen, talk and surf the Internet. They are intuitively seeking to escape the fear, depression and suffering amongst ordinary people that ruthless capitalism had instilled on democracies in Europe and the United States. They are looking for a leader that is wise and smart enough to escape or counter the contagion of greed, uprisings like the Arab Spring and the wars fought for rights and recognition.
In President Zuma they have a person who is human, someone with desires, who has made mistakes in his life. He is kind – someone who looks after the poor and family and compassionate – always passing a message of sympathy or condolence to those who are grieving. He is visible – always delivering a message of hope in public or on screen. He is vocal and stubborn – unafraid to speak his mind and tolerant and forgiving of his enemies and detractors. He is also unyielding to the claims of public irresponsibility and wrongdoing. President Zuma is a wise struggle veteran who continues to serve the ANC and its members with dignity and selfless dedication, whilst being elegant, humble and unassuming in his presentations in public. He is known to take action when people don’t deliver and has fired several officials during his tenure. Some of those he fired are now his most toxic political enemies. People also respect him for rising from humble beginnings as a cattle herd boy to leader of the country. He is a son and icon of rural society and they respect him for his longevity and fitness. The strongest weapon in his armory is his unrivalled charisma, which empowers him to charm and befriend whoever wields the influence he needs, even the leaders of the most powerful nations. People from all walks of life seem to enjoy his customary hug.
Contrary to the beliefs that the idealism and moral codes of western societies are best for Africa, Zuma supporters are claiming governance processes and institutions that will benefit the poor and rural people, irrespective of whether it is morally or legally perfect or not. The people know he is not perfect and that he does not profess to be perfect. He is predictable and consistent. That is why they like him and why they trust that he will make a difference in their lives. That is why they support him. Those hopeful of transformation will vote for him. People will vote for President Zuma because he is human.