A new poll released by research group Ipsos shows that the vast majority of South Africans think that president Jacob Zuma is not performing well as leader of the nation.
This comes after the president reportedly told the ANC’s top six during their meeting on Sunday night that the “people still love him”.
The survey, conducted between November and December 2017, polled over 3,500 South Africans from all demographic groups and political lines, asking them to rank Zuma’s performance as president from “not well at all” to “very well”.
Almost three quarters (72%) said the president was not doing the job well.
When asked about deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, however, opinions turned, with 53% saying that the country’s second-in-command was doing his job well.
“From the results, it is clear that more than seven in every 10 South Africans of voting age do not feel that the president is performing optimally,” Ipsos said.
“It could be argued that this opinion is strongly influenced by the opinions of opposition supporters – but actually, six in every ten ANC supporters share the view that the president is not performing well.”
When asked to evaluate political leaders on a scale from 0 to 10 – where 0 means that you are totally against the person as a political leader and 10 means that you are totally in favour of the person as a political leader – a comparable sentiment emerged from the views of South Africans, the group said.
“Zuma still receives much lower scores than the deputy president – also from ANC supporters,” Ipsos said.
Time is running out
The newly elected leadership of the ANC, headed by party president Cyril Ramaphosa, is butting heads with Zuma after he refused to acquiesce to a request by the party’s top six to step down as president.
The ANC’s national working committee has called for a special sitting of the national executive committee to discuss Zuma’s refusal, which will take place on Wednesday evening, ahead of the State of the Nation Address.
Speculation and rumour abound as Zuma called a sudden meeting with cabinet ministers to be held in Cape Town on Tuesday night. It was not clear why the meeting has been called.
According to party insiders, speaking to the media anonymously, Zuma is said to be confident that he has the support of the people of South Africa, and is banking on enough support within the ANC to shoot down any attempt to impeach him, or pass a motion of no confidence against him.
The president’s critics say that his continued defiance reflects badly on the party, and reinforces divisions at a time the new leadership wants to launch 2019 election campaigns. Meanwhile, his supporters say that forcing the president to step down would further divide the party.