Fixing the economy is Cyril Ramaphosa's top task, finds survey

18 June 2019 - 08:28
By TimesLIVE
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivering his state of the nation address in parliament on February 7 2019.
Image: Esa Alexander/Sunday Times President Cyril Ramaphosa delivering his state of the nation address in parliament on February 7 2019.

Ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Thursday evening, South Africans are eager to hear how the reversing economy can be tackled.

This is according to marketing and social research consultancy Citizen Surveys.

A May analysis conducted immediately after the national and provincial elections revealed that the number of South Africans who believed the country was heading in the right direction increased by 9% from April to 38% - levels not seen since the height of ‘Ramaphoria’ in the second quarter of 2018, said the report.

And although his presidential job approval rating has increased from 54% in April to 63% in May, the June 20 State of the Nation Address will be challenging for President Ramaphosa as frustrated South Africans are now demanding more than a plan - they are looking for action and tangible results.

Reza Omar, strategic research director at Citizen Surveys, commented: “With the economy reversing course in the first quarter of 2019 and 73% (27.5m) of South Africans believing that unemployment is the most important problem facing the country, followed by crime and poverty, it’s no surprise that growing the South African economy and attracting investment to create more jobs is currently President Ramaphosa’s biggest task."

Ramaphosa’s February Sona was well-received – 63% of those who monitored it felt that the address made them feel more positive about the direction of the country.

During his February address, President Ramaphosa committed to, among other things, addressing and solving the problems of corruption and state capture.

This resulted in reduced perceptions of increased corruption from 75% in January to 70% in February 2019 - less people believe that corruption was getting worse.

"The unfortunate implementation of Eskom’s stage 4 load-shedding during March reversed the trend, leading to an all-time high of 82% in April. The drop in May to 75% indicates that South Africans believe President Ramaphosa will deliver on the ANC’s manifesto promises to reduce corruption and hold those guilty to account," stated the researchers.