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Zuma's approval rating at 58% among SA city dwellers

Neil Higgs
08 December 2009

75% of black South Africans polled think president is doing a good job

President Zuma's approval levels end 2009 on a high as fence-sitters make up their minds

Although US President Obama's approval ratings have fallen from his 100-day level of 68% to just below 50%, the same is not true of President Jacob Zuma:  his 100-day approval rating was 57%.  This dropped to 53% in September but regained this ground in November to end the year on 58%.

TNS Research Surveys, South Africa's leading marketing and social insights company, has been tracking approval levels of the incumbent President for many years, including our new president, President Jacob Zuma.  The three studies study were each conducted amongst a sample of 2 000 SA adults from the seven major metropolitan areas of South Africa, interviewing them face-to-face in their homes, with a margin of error of under 2.5% in June, September and November.

President Zuma's approval levels reach an all-time high

In late June, 57% of the adult metro population felt that President Zuma was doing a good job as president.   This represented a rise from the 52% who felt he would do a good job as president when they were interviewed in an identical study over the election period in April and a substantial rise from the 40% who felt he would do a good job as president when interviewed in February 2009 and from the 36% in a November 2008 study.

In September, 53% approved of President Zuma's performance and 58% approved in November, his highest rating yet.

By comparison, former President Mbeki's approval ratings were in the mid to low 30s from 1999 to 2002, only beginning to rise in 2003 before hitting a high of 66% in both 2004 and 2005.  He ended his term on a rating of 34%.

Attitudes are beginning to crystallise: the fence-sitters have begun to make up their minds

The latest study shows that, whilst 23% of people feel he is NOT doing a good job, 19% gave a "don't know" response.  This compares with 13% giving a negative response in June and 31% giving a "don't know" response.  Hence, many people have moved from a wait-and-see attitude to either a positive or negative stance.  This means that, whilst the simple approval levels have risen, the net sentiment (approve minus disapprove) is down since June.

%

2008

February 2009

April 2009

June 2009

September 2009

November 2009

Approve

36

40

52

57

53

58

Disapprove

40

40

29

13

19

23

Don't know

24

20

19

31

28

19

Net positives

-4

0

23

44

34

35

* Net positives are given by subtracting those who feel he will NOT do a good job from those who feel he WILL do a good job.

This is against a background of the President's visit to Zimbabwe in August, his new Zimbabwe task team's first meetings in November, his nomination of the new Chief Justice on 1 October, his appointment of Mo Shaik as Head of the Intelligence Service on 2 October and the launch of the Presidential hotline on 7 October.

Who is more or less positive?

Unfortunately, political views in South Africa tend to have a strong correlation with race.  This is best illustrated in the following table:

%

Blacks

Whites

Nov

Feb

Apr

Jun

Sept

Nov

Nov

Feb

Apr

Jun

Sept

Nov

Approve

51

58

73

75

67

75

4

5

16

24

29

22

Disapprove

25

22

9

4

9

11

66

77

64

36

43

45

Don't know

24

20

17

21

24

14

29

17

21

40

28

32

Net positives

26

36

64

71

58

64

-62

-72

-48

-12

-14

-23

 

%

Coloureds

Indian/Asians

Nov

Feb

Apr

Jun

Sept

Nov

Nov

Feb

Apr

Jun

Sept

Nov

Approve

10

12

11

23

31

38

27

12

25

35

38

29

Disapprove

71

71

68

19

26

35

45

52

49

23

35

50

Don't know

18

18

21

58

43

27

28

36

26

43

27

21

Net positives

-61

-59

-57

4

5

3

-18

-40

-24

12

3

-21

* Net positives are given by subtracting those who feel he will NOT do a good job from those who feel he WILL do a good job.

  • For blacks, approval levels rose sharply over the election period with the net positive figure continuing to rise in June.  However, it has since declined as those giving a "don't know" response make up their minds.  Nonetheless, the proportion of people approving of the President's performance remains high at 75%.
  • For whites, there was a remarkable positive shift beginning over the election period and continuing into September - but sentiment declined in November.  However, 32% are still fence-sitting.
  • For coloureds, the major move is out of the "don't know" response category.
  • For Indians/Asians, the score has moved into strong negative territory.

Differences by area

There are usually strong regional differences in such ratings.  These are outlined below:

  • Gauteng - 64%
    • Johannesburg and environs - 64%
    • Johannesburg excluding Soweto - 61%
    • Soweto - 70%
    • East Rand - 67%
    • West Rand - 61%
    • Vaal Triangle and South Rand - 60%
    • Pretoria - 61%
  • Cape Town - 35% (lowest)
  • Durban - 61%
  • Eastern Cape - 53%
    • Port Elizabeth - 44%
    • East London - 71%
  • Bloemfontein 83% (highest)

Other notable differences

Partly in line also with race, younger people are much more positive about the President (63% of those under 34 years approve of the way the President is doing his job), this dropping to 44% for those aged 50 years and more.

Our take out

Whilst the net positive sentiment has declined since the 100-day mark of President Zuma's new administration, it is clear that those who have been sitting on the fence are beginning to make up their minds.  This has resulted in his approval levels rising to their highest - but there has also been an equally strong movement into the "disapprove" category.

Technical note

All the studies were conducted amongst 2 000 adults (1260 blacks, 385 whites, 240 coloureds and 115 Indians/Asians) in the seven major metropolitan areas: it has a margin of error of under 2.5% for the results found for the total sample.  The studies were conducted by TNS Research Surveys (Pty) Ltd as part of their ongoing research into current social and political issues and were funded by TNS Research Surveys. 

Statement issued by Neil Higgs, Director Innovation and Development TNS Research Surveys, December 8 2009

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If you come across comments that are injurious, defamatory, profane, off-topic or inappropriate; contain personal attacks or racist, sexist, homophobic, or other slurs, please report them and they will be removed.
 
 responses to this article

Simply d best
Zuma is simply the best pres SA had after Mandela. I cant believe a caucasian afrikaaner fool like Botha (D*******, i rest my case) used to be this country's president.

by Reggy on December 09 2009, 08:45
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@ D*******
When blacks disagree with whites they are labelled uneducated, below average I* and stupid. This sound like the new race card played by whites where blacks disagree with them. How P*******.

by Mogotsi on December 09 2009, 08:51
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@ D*******
As a black south african I do not care about you Eugenics opinion. You can go to hell with the rest of Apartheid leaders.

by Kabelo on December 09 2009, 08:55
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Opinion Polls
Thank you for giving us these figures.They show us the divide btween Blacks and Whites approach and thinking.Change has never been nice to everyone therefore it is understandable that some of our white fellow citizens are not prepared to accept and . .more

by ZAPATA on December 09 2009, 09:32
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clarification
average I* for south africa demographic:

Blacks ~ 72
Coloureds ~ 89
Whites ~ 100
Asians ~ 115

This is inline with international studies. Of course these are averages and won still get variances on that, but in general, . .more

by unknown on December 09 2009, 09:44
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ANC voting fodder are dumb to the extreme
Somebody should really explain to me the apparent contradiction between rioting in Standerton due to poor service delivery, but then the very same voters voting for the ANC regime causing the poor service delivery in election after election. The only . .more

by Afrikaner on December 09 2009, 09:52
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Interesting
White people in this country are selfish,arrogant and silly they must go .

by Midlo on December 09 2009, 12:21
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@ D*******
So it means that the 22% whites who approve of Zuma have an I* of 67. What about the 70% whites who approved and voted for the National party, did they have a higher I*.

by Mogotsi on December 09 2009, 13:27
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@mabuyakulu
How do this people come up with all these crazy stats.
Zuma is a crook, he got into the presidency by crook, there is no way he'll ever be a good anything in my books.

by K Mabuyakulu on December 09 2009, 13:43
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@mabuyakhulu
mabuyakhulu. your books are outdated, they are still in the era of lekota and his crew. Wake up and realise that Zuma is the president now and he is doing agreat job contrary to your expectations. he got the presidency through legitimate democratic . .more

by Medvedev on December 09 2009, 14:26
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@Medvedev
Exactly how is he doing a "great job"?
He got the presidency by avoiding his "day in court", and now he is fixing the judiciary and the NPA to make sure he never has to answer the 700 charges against him.

by Jeff on December 09 2009, 17:36
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Ignorance is NOT bliss
The 75% approval of Zuma by blacks includes a large number of simple folk who haven't the faintest idea what Zuma, Cosatu and the communists are doing the country and the economy.

by Reitz on December 11 2009, 08:14
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