Despite load shedding, drought and belt-tightening – South Africans are still optimistic about 2020

South Africans are quite optimistic about the country’s prospects in 2020 – though a large number of people expect the year to be dotted with ‘more of the same’, including continued drought, economic woes, political squabbling, load shedding, and concerns about unemployment.

This was the key finding from a new Ipsos survey, conducted at the end of 2019, which interviewed 3,590 randomly selected South African adults face-to-face in their homes and home languages.

According to the findings, almost half (49%) of South Africans said that they view 2020 with optimism.

By comparison, 16% said they were not optimistic, and a large proportion – 35% – indicated that they had mixed feelings about the coming year.

Globally, around half of people (52%) believe the economy will improve this year, while a comparable 56% of online South Africans share this opinion.

81% believe 2019 was a bad year for South Africa, compared to 65% worldwide who believe this about their own country in 2019.

Two-thirds (68%) of South Africans are also of the opinion that 2019 was a bad year for them and their families.

85% of online South Africans look forward to 2020 to be a better year than 2019 for them personally.

Working status does not influence optimism

Ipsos noted that working status does not appear to influence optimism.

“Against the background of South Africa’s increasing unemployment figures, one would assume that those who have a job should look at the future with more optimism than those who are not employed,” it said.

“However, this is not the case and those who work and those who do not work have largely similar feelings about 2020.

“Even when looking in detail at the sub-groups of those South Africans who work full-time versus those who are unemployed (and mostly looking for work), we find that feelings about 2020 are similar.”

Political parties

Ipsos noted that the political party an individual would choose to vote for (if eligible to vote) has an influence on feelings of optimism about the year ahead.

Although the differences are not vast, ANC supporters are the most optimistic at 55%, followed by EFF supporters at 51%, IFP supporters at 50% and DA supporters at 45% (taking those who “agree” and “strongly agree” together.)


These were the five most popular predictions from South Africans in 2020:

  1. I will make some personal resolutions to do some specific things for myself and others in 2020” (88% likely);
  2. “I am optimistic that 2020 will be a better year for me than it was in 2019” (85% likely);
  3. “People around the world will spend more time online than watching TV” (83% likely);
  4. “Average global temperatures will increase” (80% likely);
  5. “There will be large-scale public unrest (such as protests or riots) in South Africa” (77% likely);

These were the five least popular predictions from South Africans in 2020:

  1. “Aliens will visit the earth” (74% unlikely);
  2. “I will feel lonely most of the time” (63% unlikely);
  3. “Self-driving cars will become a usual sight on the streets of my town/city” (61% unlikely);
  4. “I will use social media less” (60% unlikely);
  5. “A major terrorist attack will be carried out in South Africa” (56% unlikely).

Read: This is how the world sees South Africa

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Despite load shedding, drought and belt-tightening – South Africans are still optimistic about 2020