National and provincial elections are scheduled for May 8, and political parties are in need of individuals who will not only strengthen them but will also positively influence the voting behaviour of South African citizens in favour of their respective parties.
Will former President Jacob Zuma strengthen the ruling party’s bid for another term in office or prove to be the ANC’s Achilles’ heel?
The question of whether ANC supporters prefer current president Cyril Ramaphosa over Zuma is one that has been debated since Zuma’s forced resignation in February 2018 when Ramaphosa was subsequently elected, unopposed, as president of the country.
According to a survey conducted by marketing and social research consultancy Citizens Survey, when comparing the two leaders in January this year, it was observed that 65% (13.1 million) ANC supporters preferred Ramaphosa over Zuma, 20% preferred Zuma over Ramaphosa and – more telling – 15% (2.9-million) of ANC supporters preferred them equally.
Interestingly, in the same month, the pair appeared on several public panels in the week leading to the ruling party’s manifesto launch in what was called a “bromance”.The survey also revealed that Ramaphosa surpassed Zuma in terms of preference across the provinces, except for KwaZulu-Natal, where 51% of ANC supporters in that province [believed to have the fiercest backers of the former president] still preferred Zuma over Ramaphosa, where the latter received 23%.
Preference amongst ANC supporters. Picture: Supplied
Citizen Survey’s director of strategic research, Reza Omar, said that this survey was focused on ANC supporters where face-to-face interviews were conducted with a sample of 1300 participants to determine which of the political leaders was preferred by ANC supporters.
“We would ask participants the question, on a scale of 0 to 10, how favourable are you towards Ramaphosa and how favourable are you towards Zuma, with 10 indicating very favourable and zero indicating not favourable,” he said.
“It was done to determine which of the political leaders was preferred as well as the influence of Zuma with ANC supporters. We found Ramaphosa received the highest number in eight of our provinces with the exception of KwaZulu-Natal.”
Based on the results of the survey, Zuma still enjoys support from a number of ANC supporters. Will this be to the detriment of the ANC in the upcoming elections?
Speaking to City Press, ANC acting spokesperson, Dakota Legoete said that ANC supported Ramaphosa.
“The ANC national executive committee is fully behind President Cyril Ramaphosa. Differing in debates does not amount to being factional,” he said.
Speaking about ANC supporters, Legoete added, “There is no individual supporter of an individual leader in the ANC. These are members of the ANC who should show support to any leader as and when they should.”
Legoete said that the involvement of the former president during the party’s campaigning was something that was encouraged.
“There is nothing negative about any former leader of the ANC participating and supporting the ANC. In fact the ANC wishes all its former leaders to come on board and help the ANC,” he said.
Zuma’s effect on ANC supporters. Picture: Supplied
During the announcement of the ANC’s “national list” by secretary-general of the party, Ace Magashule, on Wednesday, he revealed that Zuma had declined being nominated.
“This list demonstrates the strength and character of our leadership that will grow and take South Africa forward. That is why we also want to emphasise that people like Jacob Zuma voluntarily declined although he was very high up on the list,” he said.
Contacted by City Press, ANC head of elections, Fikile Mbalula said he could not comment on the survey.
“We are in a campaign and we want all ANC supporters to vote. We will not comment on Zuma as if he is not a member of the ANC,” he said.