Covid-19: News24 readers approve of government, president’s handling of pandemic - new poll

President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
  • Four in 10 News24 readers rate Ramaphosa's performance highly.
  • Seven in 10 News24 readers say government is handling the crisis well.
  • Government has a lot of support among younger News24 readers.

President Cyril Ramaphosa's performance in response to the Covid-19 pandemic has mostly been a success, according to News24 readers. Most News24 readers also approve of government's handling of the pandemic, although their approval ratings for some Cabinet ministers are markedly lower.

This is according to a News24/Ipsos poll of 52 287 News24 readers, undertaken from 25 May to 4 June 2020.

News24 and Ipsos conducted the survey in an attempt to understand the impact of the pandemic on readers' lives, but also sought readers' views on a number of issues related to Covid-19. 

The findings of the poll were weighted and projected to account for demographics and internet connectivity. Mari Harris, political analyst at Ipsos South Africa explained:

"The findings are representative of South African adults with access to the internet - whether this access is at home, at work and/or on a mobile phone. This group represents about two-thirds of all adults in the country and covers all provinces, population groups, ages and people of different working status and incomes. However, it will be fair to describe this online group as more 'connected' than those South Africans who have no access to the internet."

READ | Covid-19 has had 'severe impact' on readers' personal finance, News24/Ipsos poll finds

Other findings in the survey include: 

  • Four in 10 News24 readers say the pandemic has severely impacted their personal finances
  • Just over half of News24 readers want the economy to be reopened even if the virus is not contained
  • 60% of readers are worried about the impact the pandemic will have on their retirement savings
  • About 68% of News24 readers will vaccinate themselves and their dependents if a Covid-19 vaccine becomes available


The poll showed that four in every 10 News24 readers (40%) give the president a score of nine or 10 out of 10 when asked about the president's performance during the Covid-19 pandemic. Only 4% gave the president a score of 0 or 1 out of 10. On the scale from 0 to 10, Ramaphosa's average score was 7.34.


News24 readers rated Ramaphosa favourably, but gav

More than seven in every 10 (72%) online South Africans said government was handling the pandemic "very well" (16%) or "fairly well" (56%), with almost three in every 10 (28%) saying government was handling the pandemic "fairly badly" or "very badly". Overall, those who approved of government's performance tended to be younger, with support gradually declining among older people:

Young people approved of how government has handle

Ramaphosa's support was largely even among different race categories. About 47% of black people scored Ramaphosa a 9 or 10 out of 10, closely followed by Indian and Asian people, at 45%. About 37% of coloured people scored Ramaphosa highly, while around 23% of white people did the same.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's performance was viewed a lot more critically and overall, she scored a low average of 5.14 out of 10 across all participants.

A fifth (20%) of News24 readers strongly disapproved of her handling of the pandemic (with 0 or 1 out of 10) and a fairly similar proportion, 18% "strongly approved" of her performance (with 9 or 10 out of 10).

Her support was proportionately much lower among white, coloured and Indian/Asian participants, at between 1% and 5% of readers scoring her at 9 or 10 out of 10.

Only 28% of black people gave her similarly high scores.

The opinions of the other two ministers' performance probed in the study, Police Minister Bheki Cele and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, fell in the middle of these two extremes, with Cele's average score out of 10 a low 5.18, and Mkhize's a far more respectable and positive score of 6.67 out of 10. 

The distribution of high support among races for Cele was similar to Dlamini-Zuma's, while 44% of black people scored Mkhize a 9 or 10, and 9% of white people.  About 17% and 18% of coloured and Indian/Asian people (respectively) gave the health minister top scores.  

Meanwhile, overall, about 83% of black readers thought the government was handling the crisis well, compared to about 48% of white readers. Government's support was particularly high among coloured and Indian/Asian supporters, comparatively, at 69% and 74% of readers.

Harris said the reason for the high support for government from black readers was "fairly logical".

"More black people than white people support the ANC, and therefore the government's actions in a broad sense. We did not ask people their political allegiance, but I think this is a very safe statement to make (if I look at the racial profile of ANC supporters). 

"Do not forget that there is also an important group of white people who do not vote for or support the ANC, but do support Cyril Ramaphosa - this is one of the reasons why support for the president is measured at a higher level than support for the ruling party in political polls," she said. 

How we did it:

The News24 poll was conducted in partnership between News24 and Ipsos

- The poll was conducted from 25 May to 4 June 2020.

- Over 56 000 respondents were initially polled, and the figure was adjusted to account for only those living in South Africa, to reach a final figure of 52 287 participants. 

- All participants were over the age of 18.

- The survey was weighted to account for race, gender, age and other demographics, as well as internet connectivity. 

- The poll reflects the opinions of News24 readers with access to the internet.

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