ANC supporters. Picture: REUTERS
ANC supporters. Picture: REUTERS

Despite ANC voters being deeply unhappy with the government’s performance in delivering on core issues, they still believe an ANC government is best placed to do so, the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) says.

The IRR released on Sunday its Criterion Report, a quarterly market research survey of voter preferences, attitudes and SA’s political landscape. 

The report was released less than two months before the national and provincial elections on May 8 that is set to be hotly contested as opposition parties hope to push the ANC below 50% of the vote in Gauteng, the country’s economic hub, for the first time.

The poll, which is seen as a snapshot in time and not a prediction, was conducted over the last two weeks in February. People were asked among others how the ANC national government performed on six core issues, and which of the ANC, DA or the EFF are best placed to deliver on those issues.

The six core issues polled included economic growth, crime, education, healthcare, corruption and land reform.

Gareth van Onselen, the IRR’s head of politics and governance, said on Sunday that the ANC national government received a negative net satisfaction score among all voters on all six core issues, but was rated by all voters as the party best placed to deliver on five of them. The exception was “fighting corruption”, which most voters believe the EFF would be best at.

In Gauteng and the Western Cape, voters believed the DA would be best at fighting corruption.

The poll found that overall, black voters gave negative net satisfaction scores to the ANC.

More than 1,600 respondents, who were demographically representative and comprised only registered voters, were questioned telephonically from February 12 to 26.

This was before the political parties revealed their candidate lists. The ANC has been slammed for keeping controversial figures who have been mired in allegations of corruption and state capture on their lists of candidates to the National Assembly.

Van Onselen said among ANC voters, 51% are “very unsatisfied” with the national government’s performance on fighting corruption, but 47% of them also believe the ANC, rather than the DA or EFF, is best at fighting corruption.

Van Onselen said in the report that the contradiction of being unhappy with service delivery, but still having the perception that the ANC is best placed to deliver services, might be explained by Cyril Ramaphosa’s election as president.

There is a belief that the ANC failed to deliver over the past decade, but that with Ramaphosa being elected, the ANC is now best placed to deliver reform, he said.

This is unlikely, as the broad structure of the party, including its leadership on national and provincial level, has not changed, he said.

“There would appear to be a well-set cognitive dissonance in place among a significant number of ANC voters,” Van Onselen said.