Protests Cut ANC Support in South Africa Capital, Poll Finds

  • Democratic Alliance has 42% support in Pretoria: Poll
  • DA gains support in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth

Support for South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has slumped in the capital, Pretoria, following violent protests over the party’s choice of mayoral candidate, the latest eNCA public-opinion survey before Aug. 3 municipal elections shows.

Just 23 percent of respondents in the Tshwane municipality, which includes Pretoria, who were surveyed by telephone this week said they would vote for the ANC, down 4 percentage points from a week earlier, according to the poll, which was compiled for the broadcaster by research company Ipsos. Support for the opposition Democratic Alliance surged to 42 percent from 36 percent, and for the Economic Freedom Fighters to 11 percent from 9 percent, the broadcaster said in a statement.

Five people died, shops were looted and 270 people were arrested last week, after the ANC’s nomination of lawmaker and former agricultural minister Thoko Didiza as its mayoral candidate for Tshwane met with widespread resistance. The protests were the latest setback for the ANC, which was already losing support due to rising discontent over a lack of jobs, decent housing and education, and a series of scandals that have implicated its leader, President Jacob Zuma.

“Roughly one-third of voters said last week’s flare-up influenced or changed their decision on who to vote for,” eNCA said. “The ANC seems likely to lose control of the capital city.”

‘Early Days’

In Johannesburg, the economic hub, support for the ANC dropped 1 percentage point to 31 percent, while backing for the DA increased by the same margin to 33 percent, the poll showed. The EFF garnered 11 percent support, up from 9 percent. In the southern Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, which incorporates the city of Port Elizabeth, backing for the ANC was unchanged at 27 percent, while the DA’s rose 2 percentage points to 39 percent. Support for the EFF fell 2 percentage points to 7 percent.

The poll surveyed 1,500 people across the three cities. Fifteen percent of respondents in Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay and 16 percent in Johannesburg said they were undecided about who they would vote for. The margin of error was 1.6 percent to 3.7 percent in Tshwane, 1.2 percent to 2.8 percent in Johannesburg and 2.5 percent to 5.7 percent in Nelson Mandela Bay.  

The final election results could differ from the polls because of the small sample size, the high margin of error, the fact that many respondents were undecided and it was unclear whether those surveyed were registered to vote or intended to do so, said Susan Booysen, a politics professor at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, before the release of the latest survey.

“It’s early days,” Booysen said. “We can at best treat this as a broad, broad indication of the election outcome.”

The August vote is being contested by 200 parties and 61,014 candidates, the Independent Electoral Commission said on Wednesday.

The ANC won 62 percent of the total vote in the last municipal elections in 2011, gaining control of 198 of the 278 municipalities, including seven of the country’s eight biggest metropolitan areas. The DA secured 23.9 percent support and an outright majority in 18 councils, including Cape Town, the second-biggest city, which wasn’t covered by the eNCA poll. The EFF was founded in 2013.

Zuma will likely serve out his term despite being embroiled in allegations of graft because ousting him would damage the ruling party, Bheki Ntshalintshali, the general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, said in an interview Thursday. Cosatu is the country’s biggest labor group and is allied with the ANC.

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