• Democratic Alliance has most backing in Johannesburg, Pretoria
  • DA leader Maimane rated more highly than President Zuma

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress is losing ground to the main opposition party in the capital, Pretoria, the key economic hub of Johannesburg and the southern city of Port Elizabeth, according to the latest public opinion survey before Aug. 3 municipal elections.

QuickTake South Africa

In Johannesburg, 31 percent of respondents said they would vote for the ANC, 1 percent less than the Democratic Alliance, according to the eNCA poll, which was done by research company Ipsos, the broadcaster said.

The DA had 36 percent support in the Tshwane municipality, which includes Pretoria, and the ANC 27 percent, while in the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, which incorporates Port Elizabeth, the DA had 37 percent backing and the ANC 27 percent, the poll found. The Economic Freedom Fighters had 9 percent support in all three areas, while 18 percent of respondents said they were undecided.

Support for the DA in all three cities was 3 percentage points higher than in a June 6-7 eNCA poll, while backing for the ANC was unchanged in Johannesburg and slipped in Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay.

Rising Discontent

The poll, which was conducted on June 20 and 21 and based on 1,509 telephone interviews, is the latest evidence that the ANC is losing support following a series of scandals implicating its leader, President Jacob Zuma, and amid rising discontent over a lack of jobs, decent housing and education. The results didn’t take into account the effect an outbreak of violence in Tshwane this week that was sparked by outrage over the ruling party’s choice of mayoral candidate.

“Nobody’s saying the ANC is going to disappear any time soon, but there’s a real turning of the tide in South African politics right now,” Nicholas Spiro, a partner at London-based Lauressa Advisory Ltd., which advises asset managers, said by e-mail before the release of the poll results. “The ANC is steadily imploding. The local elections could deliver quite a shock.”

The poll is the second eNCA has undertaken this month in the three municipalities. The first survey of 3,000 potential voters showed the ANC lagging the DA by 5 percentage points in Tshwane and 4 percentage points in Nelson Mandela Bay, while holding 2 percentage point lead in Johannesburg.

Zuma Successor

Respondents in this week’s survey were also asked to rate the country’s political leader out of 10. Zuma scored 5.3 in Tshwane and 5.8 in Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay, while DA leader Mmusi Maimane ranked 7.2 in Tshwane, 6.9 in Johannesburg and 7.6 in Nelson Mandela Bay. EFF leader Julius Malema was rated 5.7 in Tshwane voters, 5.4 in Johannesburg and 5.9 in Nelson Mandela Bay.

Both Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the chairwoman of the African Union Commission, who are seen as the leading candidates to succeed Zuma, were rated higher than the president, according to the survey.

The ANC has ruled Africa’s most-industrialized economy since taking power under Nelson Mandela in the nation’s first multiracial elections in 1994. It won 62 percent of the vote in the last national elections in 2014, which secured a second five-year term for Zuma.

South Africa’s second-biggest city, Cape Town, which is governed by the DA, wasn’t included in the survey.

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