ROLLING BLACKOUTS BACKLASH
Torched by power cuts, the middle class will load shed the ANC in 2024 – survey
The first extensive survey of the impacts of rolling blackouts shows the effects they are having on your mental health, economic wellbeing and politics.
Just over eight in 10 people who responded to a nationally representative survey of middle-class homes are despondent about South Africa’s future.
And nine in 10 laid the blame squarely at the door of “corruption and criminality”, according to the SA Blackout Report by BrandMapp-Silverstone released this week.
Government incompetence, cadre deployment and a lack of political will follow closely as reasons ticked by respondents. Half of the almost 1,500 respondents said they think load shedding will never end.
Six in 10 respondents said they were not voting for the ANC in 2024.
This is important because it is the first test of political intentions related to load shedding. The ANC’s leadership is drawn from the black middle class and the party has long worried about losing this rump of support.
The survey shows that the trend – first noted in the 2021 local government poll when the party lost majority control of most cities – has intensified.
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It is a sample of only middle-class and top end (or income tax-paying) voters. Fully representative political opinion samples have put the ANC vote at between 40% and 51%, but this was before the intensity of power cuts grew.
Blackouts are taking a scythe to incomes, productivity and the safety of a representative sample of South Africa’s top 30% of the societal triangle, or adults in households with income above R10,000.
This is the golden mean of society; those people who do not depend on the state and fund the fiscus. In South Africa, about 13 million people fit the category.
The BrandMapp survey published this week says that lower-income consumers have lost jobs and incomes, while higher-income consumers are losing productivity, opportunities and small businesses.
Brandmapp’s Brandon de Kock was surprised that 61% of those surveyed still relied on candles for light when the power went out. At the same time, equal numbers (nine percent) had invested in an inverter with either battery or solar-generated power.
“We’ve been forced back 100 years. When candle power is the best solution, you have to know there’s a problem,” say the researchers.
What is clear is that the cost of solar installations means it is a solution for only about three percent of the sample.
Households can mostly absorb R5,000 on solutions, while 20% of wealthy homes have thrown more than R30,000 at the problem.
But 39% of households planned to investigate solar with inverter options, adding oomph to a sector that has become high-demand with long waiting lists.
“… 79% of respondents are planning to spend money to fight blackouts – and about half of them can spend more than R15,000 doing so.” DM