ANC dwindling urban support base poses re-election threat

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The AFRICAN National Congress and opposition Democratic Alliance are neck-and-neck in the polls among urban voters seven months before next year’s general election.

A leading publication has said in a survey conducted last week says there was general unhappiness with the direction in which the country is headed.

With the removal of Thabo Mbeki , the ANC has lost a swathe of support in mainly urban areas.

His removal is seen as the biggest upheaval of the post-apartheid era.

About 1500 South Africans took part in the survey conducted between Tuesday and Thursday and it was intended to gauge public opinion on the political events.

According to researcher Mari Harris the study also found that South Africans are intending to turn out en masse for the election next year, Mbeki is still more popular than his arch-rival, ANC president Jacob Zuma, among urban voters.

On the new president Kgalema Motlanthe, Harrris says he is more popular among ANC voters than Mbeki or Zuma.

But the most shocking finding was that fewer than three in 10 respondents (27%) would vote for the ruling ANC if the election were held tomorrow.

About 26% of participants would vote for the opposition DA, while 27% are undecided.

The DA has apparently gained ground in the Western Cape and Gauteng, according to Harris.

Reports say about 10% of respondents said they would not vote. The Independent Democrats and Freedom Front garnered support of 1.6% each, the Inkatha Freedom Party 0.8% and a new party founded by disgruntled ANC members only 0.9%.

Despite his ousting, Mbeki is still more popular than his arch-rival, ANC president Jacob Zuma, getting a 5.95 favourability rating out of 10. Zuma scored only 3.89.

Harris conceded that a study conducted in April, involving 3500 interviews with members of households across the country, had indicated that 69% of rural dwellers would vote for the ruling party against 9.5% for the DA.

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