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News release

Unemployment, unreliable electricity supply, and corruption are South Africans’ top concerns, Afrobarometer pre-election telephone survey shows

23 May 2024 South Africa
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News release
Key findings
  • Unemployment far outranks other issues as the country’s most important problem that citizens want their government to address, cited by 71% of respondents as one of their three priorities (Figure 1). Electricity/load shedding (26%), corruption (21%), inflation/cost of living (21%), poverty (21%), and management of the economy (20%) round out citizens’ top priorities for government action.
  • More than six in 10 South Africans (62%) say they are dissatisfied with the way democracy works in their country, while only 36% express satisfaction (Figure 2).
  • More than eight in 10 South Africans (85%) say the country is going in the wrong direction, up from 46% in 2011 (Figure 3).
  • Among respondents who say they are registered and are likely to vote, about one-third (32%) say they have not decided which party they will vote for.

The most urgent problems that South Africans want their government to address are unemployment, unreliable electricity supply, and corruption, according to a new Afrobarometer telephone survey ahead of general elections on 29 May.

Citizens also cite economic issues including inflation, poverty, and management of the economy.

As citizens prepare to go to the polls, a majority of them are dissatisfied with the way democracy is working in their country, and they overwhelmingly say their country is going in “the wrong direction.” Even among likely voters, one-third say they have not decided which party they will vote for. 

These findings are from a telephone survey conducted 23 April-11 May with a sample of 1,800 South Africans aged 18 and older. The margin of sampling error is +/-2.3 percentage points.