Mmusi Maimane was once SA’s most favoured political leader

Mmusi Maimane has enjoyed moments of being the most favoured of all the political party leaders in the country.

Maimane was elected Democratic Alliance leader in May 2015.

According to asurvey conducted by Citizen Surveys, “in quarter four of 2016, quarter one of 2017 and quarter two of 2017 – over a period of nine months, Maimane had the highest favourability rating of all major political party leaders in South Africa. In quarter three his favourability rating was 29% – the highest in the country.”

“That was all through the period of the Zuma Must Fall movement. During this movement Maimane had the highest favourability. And what we see is that it was in quarter three of 2017 just before CR17 [Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign to be elected ANC president], that Ramaphosa’s favourability rose above Maimane’s,” said Reza Omar, strategic research director at Citizen Surveys.

“But before that, Maimane was at the top. For a whole nine months … And for the past two and a half years Maimane has been very consistent in terms of favourability, which has remained at 29% for a very long time.”

The Zuma Must Fall movement – which started after former president Jacob Zuma removed Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister in early December 2016, a move that saw the rand crash through the R15/$ mark, carried on well into 2017.

Mmusi Maimane
Graph: Citizen Surveys

On December 16 2016, South Africans held marches in different cities for people to demonstrate their anger with Zuma’s decision, their unhappiness with his leadership and call for his resignation.

In April 2017 political parties including the DA, EFF, Cope and the UDM marched to the Union Buildings in support of the movement and calling for the former president’s resignation.

However in terms of which political parties were seen to be linked to critical challenges in South Africa, according to data collected in Q1 of 2019 – during the election period – Maimane’s former party “had no strong associations with solving any of South Africa’s most important problems”.

Omar explained: “What this shows is that when we asked the question ‘which political party is best at solving problems?’, the ANC was associated with maintaining roads, providing water and providing electricity, basic service delivery.

The most important problem facing South Africa is unemployment and no political party was associated with being able to create jobs
Reza Omar, strategic research director, Citizen Surveys

“The EFF was associated with being able to reduce corruption. The DA had no strong associations.”

According to the survey no political party was associated with creating jobs.

“The most important problem facing South Africa is unemployment and no political party was associated with being able to create jobs,” said Omar.

Having collated data from “face-to-face interviews with a nationally-representative sample of 1 300 respondents a month, of the population 18 and older” Citizen Surveys said that "Maimane currently leads EFF leader Julius Malema by 4%”.


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