In the latest findings from the 2023 Reconciliation Barometer survey, it has been revealed that approximately 70% of South Africans express their likelihood to participate in the upcoming elections. Despite this positive inclination towards voting, the report also highlights a significant decline in public confidence, with over eight in ten South Africans expressing a loss of faith in their political leaders.
Released by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR), the survey paints a concerning picture of diminished trust in political figures and public institutions, marking a historic low in the nearly 30 years since the advent of democracy in the country. The trend of decreasing voter turnout since 1999 is reiterated in the findings.
Furthermore, the study points out that confidence in political parties has reached an all-time low since the 2019 elections. Notably, the African National Congress (ANC) has experienced a decline in support from 47% in 2019 to the current figure of 37%. The Democratic Alliance (DA) has maintained a consistent level of around 25%, while the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have seen an increase in support, rising from 25% to 32%.
Professor Rajendran Govender from the University of Cape Town (UCT) contextualizes these figures within a global pattern of disillusionment with dominant political parties. He suggests that this sentiment is not unique to South Africa and may not necessarily translate into increased support for smaller parties, but rather contribute to a higher rate of voter abstention.
The survey also reveals that nearly half of South Africans feel inadequately qualified to engage in politics, expressing a lack of understanding of crucial issues impacting the country. These findings underscore the complex landscape of political sentiment in South Africa as the nation approaches the 2024 elections.