Older, richer people more supportive of Ramaphosa, poorer not so much

A survey on the effects on society of the lockdown shows that President Cyril Ramaphosa is regarded as doing a good job, although poorer and younger people support him less than older, wealthier people do.
A survey on the effects on society of the lockdown shows that President Cyril Ramaphosa is regarded as doing a good job, although poorer and younger people support him less than older, wealthier people do.
Image: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa is seen as doing a good job in his handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

However, there have been adverse socio-economic and psychosocial impacts as a result of the lockdown, with those hardest hit showing lower levels of support.

These findings are contained in an ongoing survey conducted by the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Social Change and the development, capable and ethical state division of the Human Sciences Research Council.

The institutes are investigating public perceptions of the economic, social and political effects of Covid-19 on life across the country.

The survey was conducted through cellphones and the internet, with no cost to participants. It went live on April 13 and data was downloaded on April 18.

Analysis is based on 5,481 completed questionnaires. Findings have been weighted to match Stats SA data on race, education and age, and can be regarded as broadly representative of the population at large.

The key findings demonstrate that 73% believe that Ramaphosa is doing a good job, with only 4% saying he is doing a bad job.

By contrast, only 25% think their councillors are doing a good job, with 24% saying they are doing a bad job.

The survey also found that 43% of South Africans support the lockdown with its current level of restrictions, 37% support amendments to the regulations, and only 5% are opposed to the lockdown.

It found that the lockdown has caused considerable financial and emotional distress.

As much as 66% of those surveyed are struggling to pay for their expenses, and 28% have gone to bed hungry, while 18% also said that someone else in their household has experienced this.

"This is clearly an area requiring a broad-based and sustained emergency response by government and civil society organisations in the coming weeks," the study said.

On employment challenges, 13% of participants reported being laid off or told not to work since the start of lockdown. In addition, 6% have continued working from home.

The data also demonstrated there is broad support for policy interventions that will help the poorest sections of society, especially the distribution of food parcels, introduction of a basic income grant, and increased social grants.

The survey found that socio-economic status strongly affected the support for the extended lockdown, which was announced on April 9.  Wealthier people are far more likely to give unconditional support to the lockdown than those who are poor.

The figures showed that 70% of those with a personal income between R20,001 and R40,000 support the lockdown, and only 35% of those with a personal income of less than R1,000 a month support it.

The findings showed that young South Africans are far less likely to give unconditional support to the lockdown than those who are older.

Only 35% of people aged 18-24 backed this option, compared with 62% for over-55s.

Most respondents (71%) supported the distribution of food parcels, followed by those who support the introduction of a basic income grant, a payment holiday for accounts, rents and taxes, and an increase in the value of social grants.

By contrast, only a small minority supported lifting restrictions on the sale of alcohol (12%) and tobacco (17%).

The two institutes said over the next few weeks, the project team will continue assessing the attitudes, behaviours and experiences of people during the coronavirus crisis.

For those interested in completing the survey, they can access the survey on this data-free link.


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