NewsAbout UsContactWebsiteBizcommunity
How can gender progressive advertising help grow your brand?
Read more
The Experience Advantage
Read more
Authentically disruptive: staying true, thinking differently
Read more
Generation Curious – why technology brings out our inner child
Read more

President Zuma's approval levels end 2009 on a high as fence-sitters make up their minds

Although US President Obama's approval ratings have fallen from his 100-day level of 68% to just below 50%, the same is not true of President Jacob Zuma: his 100-day approval rating was 57%. This dropped to 53% in September but regained this ground in November to end the year on 58%.
TNS Research Surveys, South Africa's leading marketing and social insights company, has been tracking approval levels of the incumbent President for many years, including our new president, President Jacob Zuma. The three studies study were each conducted amongst a sample of 2 000 SA adults from the seven major metropolitan areas of South Africa, interviewing them face-to-face in their homes, with a margin of error of under 2.5% in June, September and November.

President Zuma's approval levels reach an all-time high
In late June, 57% of the adult metro population felt that President Zuma was doing a good job as president. This represented a rise from the 52% who felt he would do a good job as president when they were interviewed in an identical study over the election period in April and a substantial rise from the 40% who felt he would do a good job as president when interviewed in February 2009 and from the 36% in a November 2008 study.

In September, 53% approved of President Zuma's performance and 58% approved in November, his highest rating yet.

By comparison, former President Mbeki's approval ratings were in the mid to low 30s from 1999 to 2002, only beginning to rise in 2003 before hitting a high of 66% in both 2004 and 2005. He ended his term on a rating of 34%.

Attitudes are beginning to crystallise: the fence-sitters have begun to make up their minds
The latest study shows that, whilst 23% of people feel he is NOT doing a good job, 19% gave a “don't know” response. This compares with 13% giving a negative response in June and 31% giving a “don't know” response. Hence, many people have moved from a wait-and-see attitude to either a positive or negative stance. This means that, whilst the simple approval levels have risen, the net sentiment (approve minus disapprove) is down since June.

President Zuma's approval levels end 2009 on a high as fence-sitters make up their minds

This is against a background of the President's visit to Zimbabwe in August, his new Zimbabwe task team's first meetings in November, his nomination of the new Chief Justice on 1 October, his appointment of Mo Shaik as Head of the Intelligence Service on 2 October and the launch of the Presidential hotline on 7 October.

Who is more or less positive?
Unfortunately, political views in South Africa tend to have a strong correlation with race. This is best illustrated in the following table:

President Zuma's approval levels end 2009 on a high as fence-sitters make up their minds

  • For blacks, approval levels rose sharply over the election period with the net positive figure continuing to rise in June. However, it has since declined as those giving a “don't know” response make up their minds. Nonetheless, the proportion of people approving of the President's performance remains high at 75%.
  • For whites, there was a remarkable positive shift beginning over the election period and continuing into September - but sentiment declined in November. However, 32% are still fence-sitting.
  • For coloureds, the major move is out of the “don't know” response category.
  • For Indians/Asians, the score has moved into strong negative territory.
Differences by area
There are usually strong regional differences in such ratings. These are outlined below:
  • Gauteng - 64%
    • Johannesburg and environs - 64%
    • Johannesburg excluding Soweto - 61%
    • Soweto - 70%
    • East Rand - 67%
    • West Rand - 61%
    • Vaal Triangle and South Rand - 60%
    • Pretoria - 61%
  • Cape Town - 35% (lowest)
  • Durban - 61%
  • Eastern Cape - 53%
    • Port Elizabeth - 44%
    • East London - 71%
  • Bloemfontein 83% (highest)
Other notable differences
Partly in line also with race, younger people are much more positive about the President (63% of those under 34 years approve of the way the President is doing his job), this dropping to 44% for those aged 50 years and more.

Our take out
Whilst the net positive sentiment has declined since the 100-day mark of President Zuma's new administration, it is clear that those who have been sitting on the fence are beginning to make up their minds. This has resulted in his approval levels rising to their highest - but there has also been an equally strong movement into the “disapprove” category.

Technical note
All the studies were conducted amongst 2 000 adults (1260 blacks, 385 whites, 240 coloureds and 115 Indians/Asians) in the seven major metropolitan areas: it has a margin of error of under 2.5% for the results found for the total sample. The studies were conducted by TNS Research Surveys (Pty) Ltd as part of their ongoing research into current social and political issues and were funded by TNS Research Surveys. For more details, please contact Neil Higgs on 011-778-7500 or 082-376-6312.

About TNS
TNS, who recently merged with Research International, is the world's largest custom research agency delivering actionable insights and research-based business advice to its clients so they can make more effective business decisions. TNS offers comprehensive industry knowledge within the Consumer, Technology, Finance, Automotive and Political & Social sectors, supported by a unique product offering that stretches across the entire range of marketing and business issues, specialising in product development & innovation, brand & communication, stakeholder management, retail and& shopper, and qualitative research. Delivering best-in-class service across more than 70 countries, TNS is part of Kantar, the world's largest research, insight and consultancy network. Please visit for more information.

About Kantar
Kantar is one of the world's largest insight, information and consultancy networks. By uniting the diverse talents of its 13 specialist companies, the group aims to become the pre-eminent provider of compelling and inspirational insights for the global business community. Its 26,500 employees work across 95 countries and across the whole spectrum of research and consultancy disciplines, enabling the group to offer clients business insights at each and every point of the consumer cycle. The group's services are employed by over half of the Fortune Top 500 companies. For further information, please visit us at

8 Dec 2009 16:01



Subscribe to our ‘Straight Talk” blog

A series of short bi-weekly posts by our thought leaders on the world of marketing and the challenges facing marketers