Youth say Zuma should step down over Nkandla


In a survey conducted by consumer insights company Pondering Panda one week after the release of the Public Protector’s report on Nkandla, it was found that more than two thirds of younger South Africans felt Jacob Zuma should step down as president over the Nkandla scandal. 2114 respondents between the ages of 18 and 34, who claimed to be aware of the Public Protector’s report on Nkandla, were interviewed across South Africa, and asked about their opinion on the findings of the report.

The survey found that 68% felt Zuma should step down over Nkandla, compared to 26% who said he should remain as president. 6% were undecided on this question.

There were found to be differences of opinion among demographic groups. Younger black respondents were the least likely to want Zuma to go, with 65% feeling this way, compared to 81% of coloureds and 77% of whites who felt he should resign the presidency. 

According to region, KwaZulu-Natal was the only province where respondents were more likely to feel Zuma should remain as president in spite of Nkandla. 48% of younger people in this region felt he should stay, compared to 42% who believed he should step down. 70% or more of respondents across all other provinces said Zuma should step down. This view was held most strongly in the Western Cape, where 83% of respondents believed he should resign the presidency. There were no significant differences amongst age or gender groups.

The survey also asked whether respondents agreed with the Public Protector’s finding that it was against the law for the government to have spent R215 million on Nkandla. On this question, 4 in 5 younger South Africans (80%) felt that the expenditure on Nkandla was illegal. In comparison, 14% disagreed and believed the expenditure on Nkandla was acceptable.

Shirley Wakefield, spokesperson for Pondering Panda said, “It’s clear that Nkandla is a huge political issue among young South Africans, with more than two thirds feeling Zuma should step down because of it. It’s also clear that any argument over the legality of the expenditure has already been settled in the court of public opinion – young people think it was illegal, and they’re angry about it. If the ANC wants to win youth support in the run-up to the elections, they need to do more to directly address Nkandla and explain themselves to younger voters. Given the level of negative sentiment about Nkandla among young people, it does not appear to be an issue that can simply be swept under the rug. How far the Nkandla scandal affects how young adults vote, or whether it keeps more of them away from the polls, remains to be seen.” 

All interviews were carried out on cellphones between the 26th of March and the 2nd of April, across South Africa, excluding deep rural areas. Responses were weighted to be nationally representative in terms of age, gender and race. Pondering Panda conducts surveys via mobile phones on the Mxit social network through an interactive app. The app is available for both feature phones and smartphones, and is accessible on more than 3000 different mobile handsets. Respondents opt-in to surveys voluntarily. Mxit has 6.5 million monthly active users in South Africa, across the demographic spectrum, making it the second largest social network in the country.

Johan van der Merwe



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