Approximately 37% of South Africans polled are fearful of the future, while 21% are depressed and only 36% are hopeful.
A quick survey of South Africans conducted across the country following the spate of looting that rocked the country in the aftermath of former President Jacob Zuma’s imprisonment found that people of all races thought the government’s response was too slow.
According to the survey, which was conducted by The Brenthurst Foundation in collaboration with Sabi Strategy, more South Africans are fearful of the future than hopeful, with black South Africans being the most fearful. Despair also outscored feeling “positive”, which came in lowest by some stretch.
The survey, which was conducted over the phone with 1,605 respondents during the week of July 21st, is weighted according to national statistics on gender, age, race, and province.
Some 37% of South Africans polled are concerned about the future, while 21% are dissatisfied and only 36% are optimistic. Political leadership and the economic situation are the main reasons for those who are pessimistic about South Africa’s future. A total of 39% of black South Africans are fearful, with only 36% optimistic. Coloreds and whites were more optimistic than fearful, with 29 percent/43 percent and 27 percent/31 percent, respectively, while Indians were the least optimistic and most fearful, with 48 percent/30 percent.
It found that the government’s response to the crisis was rated marginally more effective than ineffective, but these scores paled against the widespread belief that the government had reacted too slowly. This appears to back up the view that the security forces were not prepared for the widespread looting because of poor intelligence.
A majority of respondents in KZN (64%) and Gauteng (76%), however, believed the government’s response to the unrest and looting was either too slow or ineffective.
Perceptions of which party responded better to the events largely mirror demographic voting patterns, with the ANC rated as the best among black South Africans (37%), and the DA as most effective among coloureds, Indians and whites (28%, 20% and 31% respectively).
Support for former Zuma and the Economic Freedom Fighters’ Julius Malema appeared to have plummeted, while support for President Cyril Ramaphosa was highest, followed by support for the DA’s John Steenhuisen.
Ramaphosa logged positive scores among every racial group, including 60% favourability among whites, and 58% among black South Africans, scoring 57% favourability overall among all race groups. He was familiar to all those polled.
Zuma and Malema were rated negatively by all race groups, scoring 49% and 50% unfavourability respectively among South Africans, suggesting very low support for the radical redistributive policies and corruption with which they have been associated. This may also explain Ramaphosa’s positive score. Zuma and Malema’s support bottomed among whites at a 69% and 91% unfavourability rating.
Among those polled in KZN, however, Zuma enjoyed a 54% favourability rating but a 58% unfavourability rating in Gauteng, while Malema polled 36% and 52% unfavourability scores in the respective two provinces.
Steenhuisen scored overwhelmingly positively among whites (55% favourability) and to a lesser extent among Indians and coloureds, but had a high (32% unfavourable to 8% favourable) negative rating amongst black South Africans. His biggest challenge seems to be that many (43%) of those polled were unfamiliar with him.
Overall, 41% of South Africans say they were directly affected by the unrest and looting in the week of 12 July. Those affected by the unrest indicated the main issues as food shortages and loss of employment.
Indians reported the highest response to being “directly affected” by the looting, reflecting the epicentre of the violence in KZN, followed by black South Africans. Blacks reported being directly affected more than twice as much as whites, who reported being least affected, giving the lie to the view that the looting was racially redistributive.
Blacks reported being most affected by food shortages – again being more than twice as affected as whites. Black respondents were most affected by unemployment following the disruption.
Overall, the low government effectiveness rating (22%) and “too slow” rating (46%) should be troubling for the ANC. Similarly, the domination of the “effective response” by the DA among white (31% to ANC 6%), coloured (31% to 16%) and Indian (20% to 3%) voters is noteworthy.
The survey of voting patterns, on the other hand, may be the most revealing issue.
With 70 percent of black South Africans admitting to voting for the ANC in 2019, and 64 percent of whites, 43 percent of Indians, and 57 percent of coloureds for the DA, the country would appear to be racially polarised more than a quarter century after 1994, though multiracial support for Ramaphosa would seem to indicate this is somewhat dwindling.