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Zuma’s MK party and unhappy voters whack ANC to 40.2% in latest Ipsos poll

Zuma’s MK party and unhappy voters whack ANC to 40.2% in latest Ipsos poll
Julius Malema (President of Economic Freedom Fighters. (Photo: Gallo Images / Luba Lesolle). John Steenhuisen, leader of the Democratic Alliance. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images). South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: Gallo Images). Former South African president Jacob Zuma. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart).

More than a third of registered South African voters say no political party truly represents their views, making for a fluid final push.

The latest Ipsos poll shows that if an election were held tomorrow, the ANC would get 40.2%, the DA 21.9%, the EFF 11.5% and the start-up MK party 8.4% of votes. 

Source: Ipsos 

Source: Ipsos

Former President Jacob Zuma’s MK party, which started in December 2023, has climbed into fourth position, winning more support than all the new parties. It could also beat the IFP and Action SA, which fish in the same waters, the poll shows. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: ANC support slips, new MK Party makes inroads, EFF backing slumps – Ipsos poll

The party seems set to give the ANC a headache, especially in KwaZulu-Natal, where it has built a head of steam. KZN has the second-highest number of voters after Gauteng. Voters will write the election results in these two provinces.  

“The problems in the ANC are structural and deeper than we thought. The last push (the governing final month of campaigning) worked in some places in 2021 (the local government election). 

“(This time) campaigning is not as strong as before. They are not putting their shoulder to the wheel,” says Mari Harris, Ipsos Sub-Saharan Africa Knowledge Director. “I honestly think they (the ANC) have left it too late. The profound influence of MK is a big thing, especially in KZN,” she adds.  

Earlier in April, an anxious President, Cyril Ramaphosa, told the National Executive Committee (NEC) they needed to get their act together. If the ANC does not get 57% (what it polled in the 2019 election), Ramaphosa’s future comes into play, and a result below 50% could be existential for him. He would be the first ANC President in 30 years to lose an election.  

Queenin Masuabi reported the party’s plans for a 57% win here. The poll shows the DA at a steady 21.9%, showing it is likely to maintain its support, while Harris says MK is also hurting the EFF, which is polling lower (at 11.5%) than in previous takes. 

At a Wits Business School event on Thursday, 25 April, party leader Julius Malema said anything other than being number two on the ballot would be disappointing for the EFF.  

Both the DA and the EFF say that Ipsos polls undercount their support. 

Pivotal moment for SA

MK is turning into the phenomenon of the election. The Ipsos poll is the third in a row to show the MK phenomenon will knock the ANC’s chances. Both the Brenthurst Foundation and Social Research Foundation polls have made these exact predictions, concluding that the ANC is on a hiding to nothing this time. 

Source: Social Research Foundation

Source: Sabi Strategy Group for the Brenthurst Foundation

“Three decades after the historic 1994 elections, South Africans are once again facing a pivotal moment. The uncertainty and apprehension surrounding the potential outcome and consequences of the 2024 elections echo the feelings experienced by the nation on 27 April 1994,” says Harris. Her research has found that 35% of South Africans surveyed say no party represents their views. Only 23% of them said the country is moving in the right direction, while “two-thirds (66%) think the country’s ‘direction of travel’ is wrong.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: The King Am I — MK’s incendiary manifesto manifests grinding contempt for SA’s democracy and Constitution

The ANC’s hegemony and hold over the South African political imagination has cracked in 2024 as its governance has caused harm to South Africans. Jobs, load shedding, the cost of living, crime and corruption have turned even its oldest urban supporters against the governing party. It needs to get nearly two-thirds of the majority in its rural strongholds of Limpopo, the Free State, and Mpumalanga to secure just over 50%, but the latest numbers show that hope is fading. The ANC runs excellent final push weeks of campaigns, but it has changed the team that traditionally manages elections. The campaign is lacklustre, with posters imported from China arriving late. In addition, its posters can’t be read from a distance, are over-messaged, and are not simple enough to make an impact. 

Campaign trail

On the campaign trail, Daily Maverick has interviewed grassroots MK members. The party clearly offers an alternative for disaffected ANC members who usually stay away from the polls when they are cross with the party. 

Ipsos adds a rider about the final month of the campaign. “As South Africa prepares to head to the polls, the shifting political alliances, regional uncertainties and the importance of the female electorate will all play crucial roles in determining the outcome of this election …the next month will no doubt bring much volatility and change to the political environment.” 

Ipsos is the most extensive face-to-face poll of South African voting intentions and political perceptions. The country’s largest poll, conducted by Wits University’s Professor David Everatt for the now-defunct Change Starts Now movement, reached similar findings about the ANC’s fortunes but did not include the MK factor at the time. DM


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