Malema now less popular than Zuma, Magashule at rock bottom - survey

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema (Gallo Images/Felix Dlangamandla)
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema (Gallo Images/Felix Dlangamandla)

In the latest research by the South African Citizens Survey (SACS), conducted by research company Citizen Surveys, it has come to light that EFF leader Julius Malema is now less popular among South Africans than former president Jacob Zuma was when he left office.

But it is not only Malema who has dropped in popularity.

READ | Eastern Cape ANC also stands behind Ramaphosa's ANC presidency campaign, slams 'wedge drivers'

In its report released on Tuesday, SACS revealed that there is a growing dissatisfaction with South Africa's politicians, showing a drop since the general elections in March.

The ANC, in particular, should be worried as public opinion in its leaders is on the decline.

In terms of Malema, quarter 2 data (April to June 2019) shows that the firebrand leader of the red berets' popularity has declined in the past nine months, dropping to 25% from 30% nine months ago.

READ | Jessie Duarte: Calls for President Ramaphosa to 'come clean' are misplaced and unfair

The five percentage points represent a drop of 16% in real terms. This places Malema at 1% lower in popularity than that of former president Zuma, who left office with an approval rating of 26%.

Approval ratings for DA leader Mmusi Maimane have remained steady, albeit at 28% over the last two quarters surveyed.

President Cyril Ramaphosa enjoys the highest approval rating at 62% in the last quarter.

This is a significant rise from 55% in the fourth quarter of 2018, and just two percentage points lower than the president's highest approval rating of 64% at the height of "Ramaphoria" in the second quarter of 2018.

"This indicates that he emerged largely unscathed from the March Eskom crisis and, subsequent to the May 8 national and provincial elections, has received a popular mandate in order to address the most important problems facing South Africans - unemployment, crime, corruption and poverty," Citizen Surveys stated.

Reza Omar, strategic research director at Citizen Surveys, said: "Comparing and analysing quarterly data affords us the ability to gauge how the public is feeling over a three-month period that covers significant events, for example, the elections and the state of the nation address. Both of these events occurred in the second quarter of 2019 and saw Ramaphosa considered in a very favourable manner."

How other ANC leaders fared

Other ANC leaders didn't fare as well as Ramaphosa, though.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni enjoyed the second-highest favourability rating of 35% in June, which subsequently dropped in July to 29%.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan's favourability dropped from 31% in June, to a low of 26% in July.

Gordhan is still, however, favoured higher than Deputy President David Mabuza, whose favourability also fell by five percentage points from 26% in June to 21% in July.

At the bottom of the pile is beleaguered ANC secretary general Ace Magashule, who has the lowest favourability among the ANC top brass, having declined from 16% in June, to a mere 11% in July.

"The significant drop in favourability ratings among the ANC top brass of five percentage points in only one month should raise concern in the party. The South African public has clearly indicated that the in-fighting and ongoing public court battles are reducing their confidence in the ruling party," said Omar.

The data was collated from face-to-face interviews with a nationally representative sample of 3 900 respondents per quarter.

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