S.Africa’s Zuma scores well in poll, in election warning to ANCTue, 23 Jan 2024 16:01:27 GMT

Almost one in three South Africans approve of former president Jacob Zuma, whose new political venture is expected to cost the ruling ANC votes in this year’s elections, a poll found Tuesday.Support for the embattled 81-year-old was particularly strong in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal — a key electoral battleground — with 63 percent of respondents there saying they felt warmly about him, according to the Social Research Foundation (SRF), a pollster.The southern African country is to hold its general elections later this year in what is expected to be the most competitive vote since the advent of democracy in 1994.In power for three decades, the African National Congress (ANC) is bleeding support amid a weak economy and allegations of corruption and mismanagement.Last month, Zuma, a former ANC stalwart, said he would be campaigning for the recently formed Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK) party.The SRF surveyed 1,400 registered voters nationwide and 2,400 in KwaZulu-Natal before the announcement was made in September and October last year.It asked them to rate how they felt about Zuma on a scale of zero to 100. Nationwide, 28.9 percent said they saw him very or somewhat favourably.Yet, the SRF warned that favorability does not easily translate into electoral support in the absence of a strong party infrastructure.Only about 300 people attended an MK rally near Johannesburg on Sunday.”The Foundation’s estimate is that Mr Zuma’s new political venture might at best shave just a few political points off the ANC’s support base,” it said. Zuma, who is facing graft allegations, has already served two terms as president and has a 15-month conviction for contempt of court, so under the constitution he is barred from standing for elected office.But his political clout could still harm the ANC. The party of Nelson Mandela is struggling in the polls and could see its share of the vote drop below 50 percent for the first time — something that would force it to form a coalition with other parties to remain in power.