Views on the South African economy: Hope or despair?

South Africans concerned about service delivery, job creation and governement’s management of the economy, according to Ipsos’s Pulse of the People.

 

South Africans concerned about service delivery, job creation and governement’s management of the economy, according to Ipsos’s Pulse of the People.

This year’s news related to the South African economy has been particularly gloomy so far.  Not only are the woes of Eskom headline news, but also an indication that we might soon be facing another credit downgrade . During his Budget Speech on Wednesday, Minister Tito Mboweni will have a very tough job convincing South Africans and the world  about the viability of the government’s plans to make ends meet during this important election year.

To guage the mood of South Africans, the Pulse of the People™ studies are carried twice a year on the Ipsos Khayabus project, interviewing a representative sample of at least 3,500 adult South Africans – and some results from this study undertaken in November 2018 are presented here.

 

The Government’s handling of economic issues

During the interviews respondents are exposed to a list of policy areas and they then state whether the South African government is handling the particular issue “very well”, “fairly well”, “not very well” or “not at all well”.  They also have the option  to say that they do not have an opinion about the issue.

 

Overall, only almost four in every ten South Africans of voting age say that the government is managing the economy very or fairly well (38%), while six in every ten disagree (59%).  This is a vast improvement from the previous year’s data (November 2017) when only 25% thought that the government was managing the economy well!

 

 

Other issues about the economy yield results in the same ballpark, save for the issue of “encouraging international investment”, where the government gets the approval of half of South Africans (50%), although a fairly similar proportion (45%) feel that the government is not doing particularly well on this issue

 

 

Not very well/Not at all well

%

Policy issue

Very well/Fairly well

%

63

Controlling inflation

34

64

Reducing unemployment by creating jobs

34

62

Controlling the cost of living

36

45

Encouraging international investment

50

 

 

Apart from economic issues, South Africans are also worried about the level of services received from government departments – as can be seen from the large number of service delivery protests and various news reports.  Less than half of South Africans of voting age (44%) say that the government is doing very or fairly well in this area, while 53% say that the government is not doing very well or not at all well with “ensuring effective services by government departments”.

 

Where is South Africa going ?

 

Currently only three in every ten (29%) South Africans, 18 years and older say that the country is going in the right direction. However,  we have come a long way since November 2017, when two thirds (66%) of adult South Africans believed the country was moving in the wrong direction. 

 

In terms of political parties, roughly half of supporters of each of the three biggest political parties say the country is going in the wrong direction.

 

 

Is the country….?

South Africans 18+

%

ANC

%

DA

%

EFF

%

 

Going in the right direction

 

29

35

27

30

Going in the wrong direction

 

51

47

52

53

Don’t Know/ Undecided

20

18

21

17

 

 

Looking forward

 

On the question “Thinking of the way your family lives, would you say that your family is better off than a year ago, about the same, or worse off than a year ago”, the majority (56%) of South Africans of voting age (18+) reflect the view that they see things staying about the same as the previous year. About a fifth (22%) are optimistic that things are better, while the same proportion say that things are worse than a year ago. 

 

Thinking of the way your family lives, would you say that your family is….

%

Better off than a year ago

22

About the same

56

Worse off than a year ago

22

 

Delving a bit deeper into the views of supporters of different political parties, we see that a quarter of supporters of both the ANC and the DA (24% and 26% respectively) feel that they are better off than before, while supporters of the EFF are more despondent, with almost a quarter (24%) saying that their families are worse off than a year ago.

 

Thinking of the way your family lives, would you say that your family is….?

ANC supporters

%

DA supporters

%

EFF supporters

%

Better off than a year ago

24

26

17

About the same

57

53

59

Worse off than a year ago

19

21

24

 

The follow-up question asked of respondents was: “And how do you think your family’s lives will be in a year’s time? Do you think your family will be better off than today, about the same or worse off than today?”

 

And how do you think your family’s lives will be in a year’s time…?

%

Better off than today

30

About the same

50

Worse off than today

20

 

Looking forward, South Africans are slightly more optimistic with three in every ten (30%) saying that their families will be better off in a year’s time.

 

Looking at the opinions of supporters of the different political parties, the DA supporters are the most optimistic with almost four in every ten (38%)  saying that they expect their families to be better off in a year’s time. They are followed by a third (33%) of ANC supporters.  Again, the EFF supporters are less optimistic (28%) than supporters of the other two big parties in the country, but a fifth of DA supporters (21%) also believe that their families will be worse off in a year’s time.

 

And how do you think your family’s lives will be in a year’s time…?

ANC supporters

%

DA supporters

%

EFF supporters

%

Better off than today

33

38

28

About the same

52

41

54

Worse off than today

15

21

18

 

It is clear that, although the situation is marginally better than a year ago and South Africans are still determined to be optimistic about where they will be this time next year,  they  are still of the opinion that the issues of service delivery, job creation and a host of other relevant issues need serious attention from government. 

 

-Ends-

 

Technical Detail

 

Fieldwork for this study was conducted from 23rd October 2018 to the 4th December 2018.  A total of 3,571 South Africans, 15 years and older, were interviewed.  They were randomly selected and interviewed face-to-face in their homes and home languages. Interviews were conducted all over the country, from metropolitan areas to deep rural areas. This methodology ensured that the results are representative of the views of the universe and that findings can be weighted and projected to the universe – i.e. South Africans 15 years and older.

 

Trained quantitative fieldworkers from all population groups were responsible for the interviewing and CAPI (Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing) was used. All results were collated and analysed in an aggregate format to protect the identity and confidentiality of respondents.

 

To arrive at the results discussed in this press release, the data was filtered by those 18 years and older (eligible voters). This resulted in a total sample size of 3 445.  In fieldwork documentation of the respondents are checked.  Using a ballot paper like that used in an election, respondents had to “vote for” their choice of political party. The question specified that they need to consider their choice as if the election were happening the next day. 

 

All sample surveys are subject to a margin of error, determined by sample size, sampling methodology and response rate. The sample error for this sample at a 95% confidence level is a maximum of 1.65%.

In conclusion, Ipsos welcomes any discussion about its record as a political pollster in South Africa, and any other jurisdiction where we do polls. Our record in South Africa as an accurate predictor of political outcomes and as a source of strategically important information based on our polling is very strong. 

 

 

 

 

 


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