South Africa’s Opposition Narrows Trust Gap but Still Faces Mixed Perceptions of Vision and Role

“The African National Congress (ANC) has dominated post-apartheid South Africa’s political landscape. Following the 2014 national and provincial elections, the party holds 62% of National Assembly seats and governs eight of the country’s nine provinces. In the run-up to local elections on 3 August 2016, the two
leading opposition parties – the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – are portraying the poll as a political watershed for South Africa’s democracy in the
wake of the Constitutional Court judgment against President Jacob Zuma and other leading ANC members regarding the use of state funds in the construction of the president’s private residence, Nkandla. The two parties were the applicants in the court case, which invalidated the National Assembly’s decision to absolve the president from remedial action determined by the Public Protector in March 2014.Results from the 2015 Afrobarometer survey, conducted before this latest development in the Nkandla scandal, suggest an evolving terrain for South Africa’s opposition. Public trust in
opposition parties has tripled since 2002 despite a dip in 2015, while trust in the ANC has dropped sharply over the past four years. But less than half of South Africans believe that opposition parties present a viable alternative vision and plan for the country. Furthermore, a
majority of citizens say the ANC is better able than the opposition to address national priority areas such as controlling prices, creating jobs, improving health care, and fighting