In South Africa, Citizen’s Trust in President, Political Institutions Drops Sharply

“In assessing the health of democracies, it is impossible to ignore the concept of citizen trust in public institutions. Trust is a cornerstone of democratic legitimacy, triggering citizens’ willingness to contribute to a strong and robust democracy: Citizens who trust their government are more willing to listen and render support to government policies aimed at improving the country. In South Africa, where economic difficulties and the Nkandla corruption case were making headlines at the time of the latest Afrobarometer survey in August-September 2015, both performance and perceived corruption could be contributory factors to a dramatic drop in public trust. Survey findings show that citizens’ trust in the president has dropped by almost half since 2011, from 62% to 34%, its second-lowest level since the first survey in 2000. Trust in members of Parliament (MPs), provincial premiers, local government councils, the ruling party, and opposition parties has also declined dramatically, making political leaders the least-trusted public officials in the country. Trust in the president is lowest of all 18 institutions and leaders that the survey asked about.”