2021 Municipal Elections | The best and the worst of my area.
In the middle of the shortened and compressed election campaign for the local government elections, less than a fifth (18%) of adult South Africans indicated that they think the country is going in the right direction.
A similar rather modest proportion indicated that their views of their personal safety are improving.
These findings resonate with findings of pre-election studies done by Ipsos on behalf of eNCA:
• Registered voters do not think that their local authorities are working optimally
• They want local authorities to focus on safety and security as a priority, and
• They make recommendations about their “wish list” when it comes to local authorities. The local government election, which took place in the middle of a pandemic, was different from previous elections in many ways, however, it is interesting that the issues of voters are very similar to issues they brought to the fore on earlier occasions. Without doubt the non-delivery on these issues contributed to the low election turnout (probably the lowest ever) and the relatively muted performance of the three biggest political parties in the country. For the first time since 1994, ANC support on a countrywide basis will fall under 50% - as predicted early on pre-election by the eNCA/Ipsos studies. Now that the election is (almost) done and dusted we need to draw a line in the sand to look at the ideas and priorities of voters going forward.
National issues and critical local issues
The graph overleaf illustrates the sensitivity of measuring public opinion on the Ipsos Khayabus – a large-scale study conducted twice a year. Clearly, political events in the country have an effect on how citizens see the direction in which the country is heading: in November 2017, at the end of the second presidential term of Jacob Zuma, only 19% of adult South Africans felt that South Africa was going in the right direction. With the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as president of the ANC and the country, the mood visibly lifted and in May 2018 four in every ten (40%) were more optimistic about the country’s direction. As was clear from different news sources, the appeal of the so-called “new dawn” dwindled since then (as shown in the results) and during the election campaign (October 2021) only 18% was optimistic, while half of adult South Africans (50%) said that the country was going in the wrong direction.
Against this background, it should come as no big surprise that more than half (54%) of adults is of the opinion that local governments do not do their job well (Ipsos Khayabus study).
The same study looks at 35 policy areas and test the public’s views of the government’s performance on these issues.
Traditionally the government’s performance is not remarkable, with most of the evaluations falling under 50% - i.e. less than half of adults (who are eligible to vote) think well of the government’s efforts on these terrains.
The five issues highlighted below are not handled well, although they are important issues when it comes to “delivery”.
A focus on safety and security
While less than 3 in every ten adults (28%) think that the government is handling the maintaining of safety and security well in more general terms, they are also saying that their own personal safety can be in jeopardy, with only about a fifth (18%) see an improvement.
In the eNCA/Ipsos pre-election surveys registered voters were probed to choose the issue they wanted local governments to focus on first, from a list of three issues, namely:
• Safety and security – chosen by 55%
• Affordable services – chosen by 32%
• Refuse removal and clean streets – chosen by 12%1 The opinions of registered voters in all provinces are summarised overleaf – in every province safety and security were chosen as the most important – although “affordable services” was also chosen by many. This does not mean that “refuse removal and clean streets” are not important, it only shows that other issues are more important to be sorted out first.
Views on the government’s handling of the pandemic
The 1 November local government election was the first one to happen during a pandemic, and many people were worried that the moving of the country to Alert Level 1 might have a negative influence and increase the opportunities for the spreading of the virus at party events, or in the queues at the voting stations.
The full effect of this will only be known in a week or two.
The Department of Health placed more than 1,000 vaccination clinics at voting stations and, according to anecdotal evidence, these have been attended well on Monday.
But what are the current opinions of South Africans about the handling of the pandemic by the government?
Three related issues were probed:
• Managing the COVID-19 pandemic
• Managing the rollout of the vaccines
• Motivating South Africans to get vaccinated.
When this performance is compared to that of the government on other areas of interest, it is going relatively well, although the performance on none of the three COVID-19 issues can be described as brilliant!
After the elections the focus should move again to curbing the effects and the spread of the virus and actively work on a programme and campaign to convince more citizens to get vaccinated, perhaps by focusing stronger on the benefits of vaccination.
Specific expectations from local councils According to Ipsos Khayabus results, only a quarter (26%) of adult South Africans are currently satisfied on how government is performing.
Moving the focus to the ruling party, who needs to be at the front of addressing issues mentioned by voters, only just more than a third (35%) indicated that they trust government to deliver effective basic services to the public. It might be a long uphill battle for many local councils to achieve this goal, if reports by the Auditor General about the efficiency of local government are taken into account.
One can well ask where this huge task of delivery should start…
Based on the findings of the eNCA/Ipsos pre-election studies a list, focusing on “ Service Delivery” issues and on “ air and qual Treatment” as the two main categories, have been put together. The six issues listed below are a synthesis of what became clear from the pre-election surveys which focused on registered voters.
eNCA's Local Government Elections news content includes interviews with candidates, political party debates, up-to-the minute elections results and reactions and interesting insights, statistics and statements from the latest eNCA IPSOS research study. Watch eNCA ’s unmissable ocal Government Elections coverage on DStv channel 403 or on https://www.enca.com/2021-municipalelections
eNCA/Ipsos pre-election polls:
• Wave 1
o A total of 1,346 CATI (Computer Assisted Telephonic Interviews) with South Africans, 18+, who are registered to vote were conducted from 9-14 October 2021
o The incidence of mobile phones in South Africa is 96% and includes people from all backgrounds and in all provinces – also in deep rural areas. This universe was used as the basis of a RDD (Random Digit Dialling) methodology to achieve the widest countrywide spread possible. o A total of 3,576 phone calls were made to achieve this sample, as many people are not registered to vote – although they might be eligible to vote.
• Wave 3
o A total of 1,672 CATI (Computer Assisted Telephonic Interviews) with South Africans, 18+, who are registered to vote were conducted from 23-27 October 2021. The Margin of Error (depending on sample size, response rate and sampling methodology used) on this sample is between 1.1 and 2.53 percentage points on a 95% confidence level.
o The incidence of mobile phones in South Africa is 96% and includes people from all backgrounds and in all provinces – also in deep rural areas. This universe was used as the basis of a RDD (Random Digit Dialling) methodology to achieve the widest countrywide spread possible. o A total of 4,884 phone calls were made to achieve this sample, as many people are not registered to vote – although they might be eligible to vote. Ipsos Khayabus Wave 1 2021:
• A total of 3,600 personal, face-to-face interviews were conducted with South Africans, 18 years and older.
• A multistage randomly stratified sampling approach was used.
• The Margin of Error (depending on sample size, response rate and sampling methodology used) on this sample is between 0.5 and 1.67 percentage points on a 95% confidence level.
• The results are weighted and projected to the adult South African population and are representative of the views of this universe.
• Fieldwork was conducted from 9-22 October 2021.
For more information on this news release, please contact:
Mari Harris Director and Political Analyst, Ipsos SA
Mobile: +27 (0)82 557 5058
Ezethu Nsiki Service Line Manager: Public Affairs, Ipsos SA
Mobile: +27 (0)74 617 8023 [email protected]
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