Sex life won't sink Zuma - survey

2010-02-11 14:31

Johannesburg - Poor service delivery, not a controversial sex life, could destroy President Jacob Zuma's popularity, the findings of a TNS Research Surveys showed on Thursday.

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 country.

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 since its election nine months ago.


Zuma's approval level rose from 40% at the beginning of 2009 to 52% at the time of the election and stepped up to 58% in November in the same year.

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, whilst 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.

Government performance

This score was the lowest ever seen using this corporate reputation model and it showed there was extreme unhappiness with the performance of government.

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 Mo 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.

Julius Malema, BRT

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 him.

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 a 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 literate.

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 government.

Caster Semenya

A peripheral issue that government was involved in was the handling of athlete Caster Semenya's gender-testing saga, which attracted criticism.

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

However, in terms of overall optimism levels about South Africa, 2009 ended with two-thirds of people feeling positive about the country.

Although down from the 73% high achieved in the middle of 2009, this was much better than the lows of around 59% seen throughout 2008.

Some 76% of people felt excited by the upcoming 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup at the end of 2009.