Poor services, not sex life affects Zuma popularity: survey

2010-02-11 12:39

POOR service delivery, not a controversial sex life, could destroy

President Jacob Zuma’s popularity, the findings of a TNS Research Survey showed


TNS’s Neil Higgs said the survey was conducted among a sample of

2?000 South African adults living in the seven major metropolitans across the


The subjects were interviewed face-to-face in their homes for the

survey measured to have an error margin of under 2.5%.

The survey used last year’s April general election as its starting

point in establishing how the current government has fared.

Zuma’s approval level rose from 40% at the beginning of last year

to 52% at the time of the election and stepped up to 58% in November.

This was despite serious reservations at the time concerning Zuma’s

practice of polygamy and 74% of adults in the metros saying it was a problem for

a man to have more than one wife.

“It is clear that many ordinary citizens separate their approval of

Mr Zuma as president from his private life,” Higgs said.

“Indeed, while just 38% of people feel that a leader’s morality

should be beyond approach, a half do not expect this and 55% feel that the press

should respect a leader’s private life,” he said.

But the Brand Leadership Academy Public Service Excellence Awards’

2009 ImagegaugeT scores for local government posed a threat to Zuma’s popularity

as it stood on an extreme low of 40 out of 100.

This score was the lowest ever seen using this corporate reputation

model and it showed there was extreme unhappiness with the performance of


While local government was seen to be particularly poor on

leadership skills, its ability to manage taxpayers’ money and to deliver on

promises, it also scored high on being perceived as corrupt, slow, bureaucratic

and treating people unfairly.

Some controversial national government decisions were included in

the survey and out of the people interviewed, 61% criticised the cost of

ministerial vehicles and 37% felt Moe Shaik’s appointment as head of state

security was a mistake.

But the majority, 54%, supported the police ministry’s

shoot-to-kill declaration policy.

Meanwhile, 44% of young black youth in the metros aged between 18

and 24 supported ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, but 43% were against


Only 27% of adults supported what Malema says and 59% of them felt

he should be disciplined by the African National Congress.

The survey also found that some 63% of respondents believed that

the taxi industry had too much power and 69% thought the bus rapid transit

system was the way to go. But 45% felt government should have consulted more

with the taxi industry on the system.

The judiciary was also put in the spotlight and only 44% of the

people interviewed believed judges in South Africa were free of political

interference while 55% have confidence in the Constitutional Court.

The survey also found that the policy of inflation targeting, a

major input into the SA Reserve bank’s approach to setting interest rates, was

poorly understood by many and these included those more affluent and financially


But this did not stop 84% of the metros’ residents interviewed from

expressing their concerns about Eskom’s price hikes. This majority felt it was

going to be difficult to cope with the price increase. However, a quarter of

them said the hikes were necessary to build essential infrastructure. The survey

also found that this represented a signal failure in communication by Eskom and


A peripheral issue that government was involved in was the handling

of athlete Caster Semenya’s gender-testing saga, which attracted


Some 57% felt the matter was handled badly, especially by Athletics

SA. However, in terms of overall optimism levels about South Africa, last year

ended with two-thirds of people feeling positive about the country. Although

down from the 73% high achieved in the middle of last year, this was much better

than the lows of around 59% seen throughout 2008.

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