How much damage Zuma is doing to the ANC

A new poll shows a dramatic decline in the popularity of president Jacob Zuma among ANC voters, many of whom would consider switching to the DA and EFF.

Zuma in the spotlight again amid allegations of an attempted state capture in conjunction with the Gupta family, which has reportedly created a rift within the ruling party and led to calls for the president to be recalled.

A survey conducted in late 2015 by Future Fact, based on a probability sample of 3,015 adults aged 18 years and over, shows that South Africans have lost confidence in Zuma as president.

When he replaced Thabo Mbeki as president of the country in 2009, 80% of South Africans had confidence in him. This figure has since dropped to -46 on Future Fact’s scorecard.

The research firm scores are calculated in the following way:

  • 5 points are given to people who show ‘complete confidence’ in the president.
  • 3 points are given to people who show ‘some confidence’ in the president.
  • -5 points are given to people who show ‘no confidence’ in the president.

The scores are then multiplied by the number of respondents and added/subtracted accordingly.

According to Future Fact, confidence in Zuma had already begun to dwindle in 2012 – his score declined to 153 – and went rapidly downwards thereafter even among black, working and middle class South Africans.

Confidence has also dropped among ANC supporters, the researchers said. “Strong supporters have remained more faithful but clearly Zuma is a major deterrent if the ANC wishes to retain wavering supporters or keep potential new supporters.”

As confidence in the president has waned there has been a corresponding increase in people agreeing strongly that the president should be chosen by the people and not by the party, from 47% in 2012 to 78% in 2015.

In 2015, 89% of respondents agreed that ‘the president has too much power’ with 68% feeling that political leadership is getting worse.


The research found that 54% of ‘wavering’ ANC supporters would feel disloyal if they didn’t vote for the ruling party, however, 43% would not feel disloyal if they did not vote for the ANC.

Moreover, half of ‘wavering’ ANC respondents said they do not believe that black South Africans who vote for the DA are traitors – considerably more than a few years ago.

“This essentially means there is more tolerance for individual voting choices and less of a blind loyalty to the ANC,” Future Fact said.

Perhaps surprisingly, as many as 15% of ‘strong’ ANC supporters indicate a potential  move to the EFF, and a further 12% to the DA.

This is even higher among the ‘wavering’ ANC supporters with 19% showing the potential to move to the EFF and a further 18% to the DA.

A reverse swing to the ANC from either the DA or the EFF is at far lower levels, even among their ‘wavering’ supporters, the researchers said.


Looking at party support bases, in 2009 ‘strong’ ANC supporters were firmly entrenched within the party (83%) with only 17% showing some potential to swing to another party.

The former has dropped to 67% in the latest survey and the potential swing has increased to 32%.

“The existence of the EFF has contributed to this to some extent, with Nkandla and other Zuma issues having an impact,” the research note said.

The ANC’s ‘struggle credentials’ have given the party a very loyal support base, said Future Fact. “But these results show that the breakdown in confidence in a tarnished president could well be rubbing-off on the party,” it said.

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How much damage Zuma is doing to the ANC