Local elections a referendum on Zuma’s popularity

President Jacob Zuma. (AFP)
President Jacob Zuma. (AFP)

Johannesburg – Despite more households having access to basic services such as electricity, a flushing toilet and having regular collection of refuse, a rise in social delivery protests in recent months indicate a fall in the population’s confidence in the president.

This is according to a report issued by Momentum Investments. The report analysed the recent elections. It indicated that the decline in confidence in President Jacob Zuma framed the recent local elections as a “referendum” on the head of State’s popularity.

A survey conducted in February 2016 revealed a 21% decline in respondents believing that the president has done a good job since 2009. This is attributed to the Constitutional Court’s ruling on Nkandla, negative news articles about state capture and the unpopular decision to replace the finance minister in early December 2015, the report stated.

Ahead of elections, another survey conducted between August and September 2015 showed that the trust in South Africa’s political leaders and institutions had dipped. Only 34% of the 2400 adults surveyed indicated confidence in the president.

Conversely, the level of trust in the president, parliament, premier and local government was highest in KwaZulu-Natal, among rural voters and in the black and coloured populations of South Africa.  

Declining confidence in the president

Poor service delivery

Limpopo, the North West and the Eastern Cape suffered with the most households lacking at least one basic service. The three provinces accounted for 37% of all service delivery protests recorded by Municipal IQ during the first four months of 2016.

Access to basic services

In the Eastern Cape, 3.4% of households did not have a formal electricity connection and over 8% of the population lacked access to piped water. In Limpopo over a fifth of all households did not own a flushing toilet. 

According to Municipal IQ, the increased service delivery protests in Gauteng are a result of increased migration to the province. Migrants with little employment opportunity end up living in informal settlements, with limited access to basic services. 

Social delivery protests by province


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