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DA and Zuma’s MK party big winners; ANC and EFF flop, new Brenthurst survey finds

DA and Zuma’s MK party big winners; ANC and EFF flop, new Brenthurst survey finds
From left: DA leader John Steenhuisen. (Photo: OJ Koloti / Gallo Images) I Jacob Zuma of the MK party. (Photo: Tebogo Letsie / Gallo Images / City Press)

A new survey shows ANC foreign policy and weak leadership are turning off voters as the DA and Jacob Zuma’s MK party make solid gains with two months to go before the election.

A national survey of voters conducted on behalf of The Brenthurst Foundation has found that the ANC’s support has fallen to 39%, making a coalition government highly likely after the general election on 29 May.

The biggest gainers were the DA, which rose to 27% from 23% in October and Jacob Zuma’s MK party, which has 13% of the vote, making it the third-largest party, with the EFF falling from 17% in October to just 10%.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Elections 2024

With 33% of the vote, the Multi-Party Charter (MPC) coalition (DA, IFP, ActionSA, ACDP and FF+, among others) is just 6% behind the ANC.

Voters are unhappy with governance, with some 80% saying the country is “going in the wrong direction” and the opposition-governed Western Cape and City of Cape Town ranked as the best-governed areas of SA by some margin.

Voters also appear to have been alienated by the ANC’s foreign policy agenda, which has alienated traditional allies in the West as the party indulges Russia, China and Iran.

Some 43% of voters believe that South Africa should align itself with the West and other democratic nations, with 22% saying it should align itself with Africa and only 19% saying it should align itself with BRICS, suggesting that the ANC’s decision to move into the BRICS camp may be costing it votes.

More than 50% of voters said the ANC’s policy on the Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas conflicts would not affect the way they voted. But 24% of voters said they were “less likely” to vote for the ANC as a result of its policy on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, while 23% of voters said they were “less likely” to vote for the ANC over its stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict.

In Gauteng, the DA has risen to 32% (24% in October) and the ANC has fallen to 34% (down from 37% in October). The MPC coalition has 38% of the vote. A coalition government will run this province.

In KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma’s MK party is set to be the largest party, with 25% of the vote. The ANC (20%), DA (19%) and the IFP (19%) are running neck-and-neck. The aggregated vote for the MPC is 39%. A coalition government will run this province.

In the Western Cape, the DA retains a majority with 53% (down from 56% in October) while the ANC has risen sharply to 35% from 22% in October.

Voters cited the biggest issues facing the country as:

  • Unemployment (28%);
  • Corruption (27%);
  • Load shedding (17%); and
  • Weak leadership (12%).

Weak leadership overtook crime (11%) as the fourth most pressing issue.

More than half of voters blame “the ANC government of the last three decades” for South Africa’s problems, with 11% saying apartheid was to blame.


Voters are strongly in favour of entrepreneurship, with 39% saying the best way to put more money in people’s pockets was by “making it easier to start small businesses”. A further 25% said “reducing taxes”, while 20% said “increasing social grants” and 10% said “decreasing the cost of the civil service” would make South Africans richer.

Some 42% said social grant payments should be increased. Asked how this should be funded, 51% said by “spending less on civil servants” and 22% said by increasing taxes.

Asked how the government could decrease the cost of the civil service, 45% said by reducing the size of the civil service by 10% or more. A further 35% said by “cutting civil service salaries and perks”.

Voters were asked who they rated favourably and who they rated unfavourably. The overall favourability score was obtained by subtracting unfavourability from favourability.

Cyril Ramaphosa (+6%) and John Steenhuisen (-6%) had the best overall net favourability rating, followed by the IFP’s Velenkosini Hlabisa (-12%), with Zuma having the worst ranking at -31% and Julius Malema close behind with -29%.

The DA enjoyed the highest overall net favourability ranking for political parties (4%), with the ANC second (-4%). The least favourable was the FF+ (-31%), with the IFP and the EFF scoring -30%.

With a coalition future more likely than ever, 76% of voters said they would be happy for a coalition to govern South Africa, up from 74% in October.

Asked about which coalitions they favoured, 29% said the Multi-Party Charter, 25% said an ANC-DA coalition and 24% said an ANC-EFF coalition.

Some 26% of South Africans said they were more likely to vote for an opposition party following the launch of the MPC in August last year.

As electioneering ramps up for the 29 May poll, in the first public survey conducted since the launch of the MK Party, the Brenthurst findings show that South Africans prefer a coalition government located towards the centre of politics rather than the left.

Widespread dissatisfaction with ANC governance and policy direction increasingly trumps any legacy loyalty to the liberation movement, where voters are now making decisions based less on nostalgia than on the ruling party’s recent record of rule. DM 

Greg Mills and Ray Hartley are with The Brenthurst Foundation


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Smanga Z says:

    So many people will be in for a shock when the final results get announced. Whichever way you look at it. The ANC still has the upper hand and whatever “coalition” that may result post elections, the ANC will be the dominant party. It’s good to be optimistic but an analysis of past voting trends indicate another ANC national government post elections.

  • louis viljee says:

    Interesting that, where the authors claim that ” the Western Cape and City of Cape Town ranked as the best-governed areas of SA by some margin”. Yet voters, who experience this exemplary governance are turning away from the DA…

  • Sharon D says:

    Sorry but your Brenthurst Foundation survey is very flawed. The fact that the PA isn’t mentioned despite big popularity especially in the WC, yet a small party like Rise Mzansi is, just shows how it is far from accurate. The biggest challenge in the WC to the DA is the PA not the ANC. Go take a look at recent by-elections.

  • Iam Fedup says:

    Polls like this are more often than not wrong – or at least seriously flawed. The only thing that counts on the day is when the votes are counted. Having said that, the DA have simply not done enough to persuade the average unsophisticated voter at their’s should be the party of choice. Even now, with just over 2 months to go, their communication has, to be blunt, been pathetic, and their bleating leaders just don’t have what it takes. As Adam Smith wrote: “It is only the weakest and most superficial of mankind who can be much delighted with that praise which they themselves know to be altogether unmerited. A weak man may sometimes be pleased with it, but a wise man rejects it upon all occasions”.

    • Glyn Morgan says:

      I strongly disagree. How do parties communicate? Through the media. Read N24, it is strongly anti-DA. It hardly gives the DA any space. Same with a lot of media houses, they do not give the DA it’s due. Sometimes DM is the exception.

      When there is a mention of a DA weakness, it is personal “I do not like Zille’s hairstyle” or “I just do not like John”. Complaints about the DA are NEVER “They do not run the WC or Cape Town well.” or suchlike.

      It is crunch time, make sure that your complaints about the DA are real and not “what a friend said”. PS, You will not find any real complaints.

  • Johan Buys says:

    The major church groups must wake up out of their 30y sleep and remind their flock what values to consider before they pick a party to vote for. I remember church leaders loudly condemning the Nats, they have a duty to speak up now as well.

  • ancient child says:

    Let me blow some bubbles here, this survey as good as it may sound about the Da it does not take into account the majority of South Africans who’s views are not accounted for. Unfortunately this will have to be tested as the people that normally vote on these polls are mostly young. However it may not take into account for the perspectives of our people in the “townships” and rural communities.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    The big increase in the W Cape for the ANC is perhaps to do withthe Moslem vote over Gaza.

    • Peter Holmes says:

      Geoff, I disagree. It is more likely the changin demographics of the Western Cape (the influx of economic migrants from the ANC heartland, i.e. the Eastern Cape).

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    So it looks as though Zuma is taking votes from the ANC and the EFF. But you have to assume the Zuma party would vote with the EFF after the election.

  • Ann Bown says:

    Sadly the foreign policy findings did not refer to the positive outcome of South Africa’s ICJ case against Israeli’s probable genocide in Gaza! This must have shifted sentiments in favour towards the ruling party as opposed to the lack of a DA’s voice on this tragic and cruel situation- the party’s leaning towards Netanyahu’s ERW rule has been noted!

  • Bob Dubery says:

    I won’t dispute the numbers here, but the extrapolations seem to me to be a wide of the mark. We’re told most voters favour entrepeneurship, yet just 39% want it to be easier to start a small business. 42% want an increase in social grants.

    We’re told that “Voters also appear to have been alienated by the ANC’s foreign policy agenda, which has alienated traditional allies in the West ” yet 43% believe that SA should align itself with the West. That’s a minority.

    The authors are aligned with the Brenthouse Foundation, and this rather looks like telling us what the BF thinks, even when the numbers tell a different story. Oh well, at least they didn’t cook the actual numbers.

  • Dietmar Horn says:

    The accuracy of professional election surveys does not depend on which political direction the client is close to. Nor does it depend on how large the sample is; rather, the extent to which the sample is representative of the electorate as a whole. It should be noted that the result only represents a picture of the mood at the time of the survey, which predicts the election result more accurately the shorter the distance to the election date is. The proportion of non-voters and those who are uncertain also has a major influence on the quality of a survey. I don’t think it’s appropriate to speculate about the outcome of the election at this point.

  • Dermot Quinn says:

    I doubt foreign policy has much effect on most of our voters thoughts. Perhaps the Israeli one where most of SA believe the Apartheid comparisons. Russia-Ukraine cannot be doing anything.
    The DA have failed:
    To promise to keep the grants, even increase them,
    To give proper service delivery, by showing comparisons of W-Cape and the rest…
    To not be seen as a white party
    To fight for the rights of people, a bit like EFF but civilised and honest.

    With morons everywhere else it would seem a no brainer but alas…

  • Corry Versluis says:

    N=1506… In a population of 60 million, i.e. 0.0025% of the population.
    Ok, let’s say registered voters 27 736 074 as of 10/3/24 per IEC.
    That’s is still only 0.00543% of the voting population.
    You get lies, damned lies and statistics. Then you get this hash of pretend by someone thinking they can draw conclusions… facepalm

  • Rae Earl says:

    These trends are deeply satisfying thanks to the severe drop in ratings by the EFF. It shows that voters are wise to Malema and his mob’s thievery in the VBS bank scandal and the crooked tenders awarded under Malema’s watch. His shouting about nationalising everything he can get his hands on has not helped his cause either as people see this as simply another feeding trough for the EFF while the nation at large pays the price. And land grabbing simply means farm workers and other will lose more jobs. Right now the DA is the saving grace in the MK onslaught; it’s popularity is unbelievable considering its icon is the person who started all SA’s problems by handing the state to his Gupa buddies who sit with many billions of our money in their Dubai hideout.

  • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

    Voting behavior is tricky to survey but if it holds true for the DA it will mean we still have a country after 5 years.
    And this is not a campaign it’s an observation.


    Like any poll, this one will have its flaws but what we are seeing poll after poll is that the ANC is trending downwards. Where previously they were in the 45 to 50% range it now seems increasingly likely that it will be more in the 35 to 40% range. This is more likely than not due to the emergence of MK. ANC will need a coalition with DA or EFF to govern. As much as I hate the idea of the DA going into bed with ANC it might be the best option. Might be a better idea for the whole MPC to go as one block with ANC and get some crucial cabinet posts and put an end to cadre deployment. Will take a lot of statesmanship to make the right decisions…

  • Pagani Paganini says:

    How stupid do you think you are? This is clearly one of those nonsensical ‘surveys’ one can come across. 90 percent of the ANC traditional voters live in rural areas and what they care most are basic services like jobs, basic healthcare and water. “Foreign policy”??? No chance in hell. That’s the concern of the 1 percent rich who live in suburbs and traditionally support DA. Try another pony trick.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    Polls are very unreliable – look at Trump in 2016! Never count your chickens before they hatch!

  • Jabu Mhlanga says:

    Pools not too far from reality…

  • Gavin Knox says:

    Why is this still here???

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