SA is more terrified than ever of Covid-19, but trusts Ramaphosa to lead the country

 President Cyril Ramaphosa visits the Covid-19 coronavirus treatment facilities at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg in April. Picture: Jerome Delay/Reuters
President Cyril Ramaphosa visits the Covid-19 coronavirus treatment facilities at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg in April. Picture: Jerome Delay/Reuters

NEWS


Trust in President Cyril Ramaphosa is high – at 76% – and two in three people trust him to lead the country during the pandemic.

This is despite people being more scared than ever during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The results are according to a new nationwide survey conducted by market researchers, Ask Africa, as part of their Covid-19 tracker, which unpacks the significant social change brought about by the pandemic.

The researchers found that, as South Africa moves close to 300 000 positive cases and the 4 000 death mark, the fear of contracting the virus continues to increase and is at its highest – 25% – fear level.

“This week sees the highest fear levels of contracting the virus, which has been measured since lockdown started 14 weeks ago,” notes Andrea Rademeyer, chief executive and founder of Ask Afrika, on Tuesday.

Distress levels remain high, especially in North West, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape. Those in Limpopo bear the brunt of emotional distress, while food security remains problematic in North West and the Eastern Cape, a new hotspot.
Research found

According to Rademeyer, the president has very high trust ratings and citizens want to hear from him.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize also enjoys very high trust levels, contrary to the other four ministers measured – Police Minister Bheki Cele, Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

An additional 64% believe that Ramaphosa is taking the lead in managing the pandemic.

“Trust in the president remains higher than trust in his ministers,” says Rademeyer.

“The president is seen as authentic, serving the interests of the people, and being transparent in his dealings. The public want to receive frequent communication from the president, at least once a week,” she says.

Among the measured ministers, Mkhize holds the highest level of trust: 67%.

Trust in Mkhize is highest in the North West, Mpumalanga and Free State.

Trust in Motshekga remains the lowest and 39% of respondents do not trust her.

She also has low levels of perceived authenticity and transparency.

Trust levels for Motshekga are lowest in the Western Cape and Limpopo.

Overall, the government is seen to be taking appropriate steps to prevent the spread of the virus.

The majority of respondents believe that government is doing well to inform and educate the public on the virus.

Trust in the president remains higher than trust in his ministers.
Chief executive and founder of Ask Afrika Andrea Rademeyer

They also believe that efforts to educate the public on the spread of the virus need to increase.

Nearly 40% of South Africans felt that it’s the government’s responsibility to take care of the poor, and 50% noted that

the government was doing enough to support the poor.

Governmental citizen support is highly praised, yet 33% feel that more can be done during the lockdown.

Food

Food insecurity remains a constant – 28% of individuals have lost weight and 55% are worried about their next meal.

Only 9% say they received food parcels from government – most received it once, others more than six times during lockdown.

Food insecurity is worst in the North West and the Eastern Cape.

At the start of the lockdown, 26% of adults went to bed hungry due to a lack of food.

In the level 3 advanced phase of the lockdown, the picture remains similar: 27%.

Read: South Africans worried as food prices spike under lockdown

Although fewer people are concerned about the amount of food in their homes, a staggering 55% of people remain worried about their next meal.

Additionally 18% of people mentioned that adults in their home went an entire day without food, compared with 19% in level 5 of the lockdown.

Finances

The debt cycle will affect the future financial wellness of communities.

“Financially the impact of the lockdown has left many living beyond their means; loans have become an essential survival plan, which may lead to further indebtedness should the situation not improve,” says Rademeyer.

“A third of people have no means of financial assistance. Awareness of government relief of distress is also low.”

Although one in five people contacted the Unemployment Insurance Fund for assistance, only 11 received funding.

“Most people are more careful with their money than in the past, and half of the respondents mentioned that they will have to borrow

money to cope with the lockdown,” says Rademeyer.

“To date, 49% of people in level 3 advanced have borrowed from friends, family or employers, and one in five borrowed from a mashonisa.”

A distressed nation

“The impact of the lockdown on socio-emotional and economic factors has been immense. Distress levels remain high, especially in North West, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape. Those in Limpopo bear the brunt of emotional distress, while food security remains problematic in North West and the Eastern Cape, a new hotspot,” the researchers found.

When it came to emotional distress, the researchers found that it was “spiralling out of control”.

Emotional distress is twice higher than financial distress, and less than a quarter of all citizens feel they are managing – this is less than half of what it was at the start of lockdown.

Only one in five citizens have accepted the “new normal”, and more than a third are still in a state of sadness and depression and hopelessness about lockdown.

Public transport

When it comes to South Africa’s transport system, 51% of commuters don’t feel safe when travelling in taxis. Only trains are worse.

Only 58% of respondents wear masks in taxis, and only 70% sanitise when leaving a taxi.

Although e-hailing and ride hailing services are perceived to be safer than taking a taxi, more people wear masks and sanitise their hands after using this form of transport.

People perceive their own vehicles to be very safe (90%), yet 78% sanitise their hands before entering their cars, and 74% wear a mask during their commute.


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