A study on voter behaviour sheds light on what to expect ahead of the 2019 general elections, revealing the ANC has an edge among the less educated and economically disadvantaged.
According to the result of the survey conducted by the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Social Development in Africa, service delivery failures have been cited as the reason for loss of confidence in the ANC from an all-time high of 70% in 2004 to 54% in the last local government elections.
The researchers found that across social sectors, capability failures in the delivery of rights-based services and entitlements, political interference in the administration, corruption in tenders, disregard for the rule of law and failure of leadership are cited as underlying the loss of faith in the ruling party.
As the election nears, the researchers noted that service delivery protests were increasing in a context of high joblessness, lack of economic growth and the rising cost of living.
The survey found that the average ANC supporter was poor and less educated, with the study noting that richer respondents were less likely to vote ANC. It has previously been established that those with higher levels of education were less likely to vote for the ANC.
Beneficiaries of social grants rank highly among these, while on the education front, ANC voters tend to have only a matric qualification or below.
The researchers observed that social grants, that the ANC is credited for the advent of freedom and democracy and the Ramaphosa factor give the ANC the edge.
Despite the ruling party’s flaws, the survey, conducted in 2018, found that of the 3 580 respondents, who were potential voters, 56%, up from 53% in the previous study in 2017, said they would vote for the ANC.
Of the potential voters interviewed, 70% live in urban areas and 30% in rural areas and 77% were black, 10% coloured, 11% white and 3% Indian/Asian.
Most respondents were working (46%), 22% were not working and 33% were unemployed.
Respondents in the sample were largely poor and fell into the lower middle-income bands, with 58% earning less than R800, 46% had matric, 26% had secondary schooling, 4% primary schooling, 5% were qualified artisans, 7% have a Technicon diploma and only 5% had a university degree.
In the youngest group (18-34), 67% would vote for the ANC (up from 65%), in the middle-aged group (35-60), 70% would vote ANC (up from 62% in 2017) while in the oldest group (over 60), 73% would vote ANC, up from 64%.
Voter preferences, the study concluded, were also influenced by the longing for socio-economic wellbeing and hope for a better life.