Jacob Zuma, No more a South African hero

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South Africa President Jacob Zuma’s approval rating has dropped to a new low of 42 percent in the last three months, according to the latest TNS Research Surveys poll released Wednesday.

Zuma’s end-2009 approval rating in metro areas was 58%, but dropped to
43% in February – the biggest drop in a president’s rating in 15 years, TNS said.

According to the findings, Zuma’s rating partially recovered to 51% at the end of May, but dropped to a new low of 42% at the beginning of September, with 44% saying he was not doing a good job as president – the highest disapproval level yet seen for Zuma.

About 2 000 South Africans were polled from the seven major cities in face-to-face interviews in their homes, with a margin of error of under 2.5%.

TNS said the decline in February occurred at a time when Zuma’s personal life was very much under the spotlight and there were growing service delivery protests.

Zuma came under attack when news broke out that he had fathered a child out of wedlock.

Some political opponents criticised Zuma, saying his alleged actions sent the wrong message in a country where one-tenth of the population is living with the virus that causes Aids.

South Africa, a nation of about 50 million, has an estimated 5.7 million people infected with HIV, more than any other country.

Zuma’s Zulu traditions allow men to have multiple wives, but experts say having multiple, concurrent partners heightens the risk of Aids.

The May study was conducted just prior to the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and these issues, as well as service delivery protests, were much less in the public eye.

The latest study was conducted during the lengthy public servants’ strike during part of which Zuma visited China with a large trade delegation.

The main drop in approval levels in September came from black South
Africans where approval levels were at an all-time low (54%) since the
2009 elections, having reached 75% end-2009.

For whites, there was a remarkable positive shift beginning over the election period and continuing into September.

For coloureds, initially sentiment moved from the negative into a “don’t know” area, but this reverted back to a negative stance in 2010, with no real change since May.

For Indians/Asians, after a positive shift in May, there had been a notable drop in September.

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