May 19, 2024

(Bloomberg) — Support for South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has fallen below 40%, a new opinion poll shows.

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The finding suggests the country “will almost certainly” have a coalition government after elections on May 29, with the ANC losing ground to a new party founded by former President Jacob Zuma and the main opposition Democratic Alliance, according to the survey by the Brenthurst Foundation and the SABI Strategy Group.

The ANC’s support has shrunk to 39% from 41% and 44% in polls conducted in October 2023 and November 2022 respectively, it said.

The party’s failure to end a national electricity crisis, the collapse of state port and rail infrastructure, rampant crime and state corruption has left the party facing its toughest electoral test since it came to power three decades ago. Various opinion polls have shown the ANC will lose its parliamentary majority for the first time since 1994, forcing it into a coalition with the opposition.

“We are heading for a transition away from one-party dominance, which can only be good for democracy, policy competitiveness, delivery and accountability,” Brenthurst Foundation Director Greg Mills said in a statement.

The Brenthurst Foundation’s ranking of the ANC’s support is the lowest of any poll to date. The party has been drawing big crowds to its election rallies, including the launch of its manifesto in the eastern city of Durban last month. In the previous national vote in 2019, the ANC garnered 58% support nationally.

Wrong Way

Four out of five respondents say the country is going in the wrong direction, citing high unemployment, graft, power outages and weaker leadership as their biggest concerns, the foundation said.

The poll shows Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe Party now ranks as the third-most popular party, less than three months after it was founded, the Johannesburg-based foundation said. Its support now eclipses that of the populist Economic Freedom Fighters, which like the Inkatha Freedom Party is losing ground, it said.

“Voters appear to have left the ANC, EFF and IFP for Zuma’s party in significant numbers,” the foundation said.

Zuma ruled South Africa for almost nine years through a series of scandals before the ANC forced him to step down in 2018 to stem a loss of support. A judicial commission of inquiry found there was wide-scale looting of state coffers and the hollowing out of key institutions during his tenure and that it took place with his tacit consent — an allegation he denies.

The ANC suspended Zuma, 81, in January after he announced in December that he would campaign for uMkhonto weSizwe.

Read More: South Africa Poll Shows Zuma Party Win in Key Province, CP Says

The only party to grow its share of the vote in latest poll was the DA, the Brenthurst Foundation said. The party, which garnered 20.8% backing in 2019, scored the highest net favorability — derived by subtracting unfavorability from favorability — at 4%, with the ANC second at -4%, it said.

More than three-quarters of those surveyed would be happy with a coalition government, with 29% favoring the Multi-Party Charter — which includes the DA, IFP, ActionSA and eight other opposition parties, while 25% prefer an ANC-DA tie-up, the foundation said.

The phone survey of 1,506 registered voters was conducted between Feb. 12 and Feb. 28 and had a margin of error of 3%. The results of the poll were modeled on the basis of the 66% turnout of the 2019 election, the foundation said.

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