The African National Congress appears on track to dominate its sixth straight national election in May as it increasingly wins back supporters alienated by former president Jacob Zuma’s scandal-marred rule, according to an opinion poll released on Sunday.
Of 3 571 adults interviewed face-to-face by research company Ipsos between October 23 and December 4 last year, 61% said they would vote for the ANC, while 14% said they would back the Democratic Alliance, 9% the Economic Freedom Fighters and 2% the Inkatha Freedom Party. No other party polled more than 1% support and 6% of respondents said they wouldn’t vote or didn’t know who they would support, while 5% declined to answer.
The ANC won power in the nation’s first democratic elections in 1994 and secured 62.2% support in the last national vote in 2014, but its share tumbled to 54.5% in a municipal vote in 2016, largely due to discontent over Zuma’s rule. Cyril Ramaphosa, a lawyer and former labour union leader, won control of the ANC in December 2017 and became president two months later after the party forced Zuma to step down.
“At the end of the Zuma years, trust in the ANC was very low, but the party has recovered quite significantly in the last year,” Ipsos said. “The trust indices for both the DA and the EFF are in negative terrain.”
The DA, which won 22.2% of the vote in 2014 and 27% in the 2016 municipal ballot, has been plagued by infighting and made several public-relations blunders in recent months, which may have cost it support. Top leaders in the EFF, which secured 6.4% backing in 2014, have become embroiled in a string of scandals, denting its image.
A phone survey of 1 017 registered voters conducted by the South African Institute of Race Relations between November 26 and December 4 showed the ANC had 56% backing, the DA 18% and the EFF 11%. Based on a 69% turnout, the ANC would end up with 59% of votes cast, the DA 22% and the EFF 10%, the Johannesburg-based institute said.