While Zuma Was Having His Hearty Laugh, The Public’s Confidence In Him Nose-Dived Like Never Before


Last week we all anticipated the last question session with our president this year. We waited, eagerly listened, and some of us naively hoped the President would have a reasonable explanation to the way things are in the country. Perhaps his account regarding the affairs of the country will make us understand certain things or so we thought.

However, the president gave us his middle finger, and choked our ears with hearty laughter that were otherwise, as far as I can tell, saying; “You all are stupid, how on earth can you waste much time questioning me on things like lavish spending, and the procurement of a R4 billion presidential jet when you voted me, knowing those are my only interest in being president? Ha! ha! ho! ho! ha! You’re screwed South Africa, you’re screwed – Ho! ho! ha! ha! ho!”

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While the president is having his last national laugh for the year, a survey by Afrobarometer – a pan-African, non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions, and related issues across more than 30 countries in Africa, exposed that like never before, South Africans have lost confidence in Zuma, believing he doesn’t give a damn about the Parliament and the law. Ideally, this ought not to be newsworthy. We already know Zuma is not a darling president.

But then, it was remarkable for the survey to reveal that the unpleasing president is even unpleasing to his buddies. Despite the fact the Zuma is the president of the ANC, 50 percent of ANC supporters said “not at all”, they don’t trust Zuma or we trust him “just a little”.

The key findings of the survey which was led by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) and Plus 94 Research, when 2,400 adult South Africans were interviewed in August-September 2015 are as highlighted below.

1. “Trust in the president is at its lowest point since 20001: Only one-third (34%) of South Africans say they trust President Zuma “somewhat” or “a lot,” down from 62% in 2011. Distrust of the president differs by location, race, and political affiliation, but even among self-identified ANC supporters, half (50%) say they trust him “just a little” or “not at all.” A representation of the public trust in Zuma as president in 2015 is as shown in the graph below.”

Public Trust In Zuma 2015

2. “Perceptions of corruption in the Presidency are at their highest level since 2000. Almost half (46%) of citizens say that “most” or “all” officials in the Presidency are involved in corruption, an increase of 11 percentage points since 2011.” You might as well check out the top 10 corruption scandals in the country.

3. “Public approval of President Zuma’s performance dropped from 64% in 2011 to 36% in 2015. A majority of citizens of all race groups disapprove of his performance in the past year. It is better represented below.”

Public approval of President Zuma’s performance 2015

4.”South Africans support limitations on presidential power: More than three-quarters support term limits (78%) and believe that Parliament, not the president, should make laws (76%), and six in 10 (62%) say that the president should have to account to Parliament for government expenditures. Despite strong support for the notion that the president should be subject to the law (77%), a majority believe that President Zuma “often” or “always” ignores laws (59%) and Parliament (57%)”.

Conclusively, the report stated that:

Analysis of new public opinion data clearly indicates that South Africans have lost confidence in President Zuma and are dissatisfied with his performance. Negative evaluations of the president are higher among urban residents and minority race groups, but they are relatively high even among the ANC’s traditional support base. Given the level of recent controversy regarding the president – and by extension his party – a concerted effort from both is required to restore public confidence in the country’s leader in order to prevent these attitudes from extending into overall dissatisfaction with the party.

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