In the run-up to local elections on 3 August 2016, the two leading opposition parties – the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – are portraying the poll as a political watershed for democracy in the country in the wake of the recent Constitutional Court judgment against President Jacob Zuma regarding the use of state funds at his private residence in Nkandla. The two parties have played a crucial role in pushing for accountability on this matter over the past few years and were the applicants in the court case.
Public opinion data from the 2015 Afrobarometer survey in South Africa show, however, that the proportion of South Africans who say that “opposition parties should monitor and criticize the government in order to hold it accountable” has been decreasing since 2008. Furthermore, a majority of citizens say the ANC is better able than the opposition to address national priority areas such as controlling prices, creating jobs, improving health care, and fighting corruption.
These survey findings suggest that opposition parties will face significant challenges in diminishing the ANC’s electoral dominance in the upcoming elections, although the impact of the successful opposition-led support for the Public Protector’s findings against the president and key ANC members may not be known until local election results are in.
For more information, see Afrobarometer Dispatch No. 88.