South Africa

The man behind South Africa’s world-class election prediction

The Social Research Foundation’s (SRF’s) 2024 national elections tracking poll provided extremely accurate results, including the ANC’s decline and the rise of the MK party.

The SRF’s daily tracking in the lead-up to the May 29 election included a survey of 1,835 demographically and geographically representative registered voters.

Every day, 300 new participants were surveyed, and the 300 oldest participants were removed from the survey.

Doing so created a daily moving average of 1,800 voters, refreshed every six days. It provided a snapshot of the daily position.

The Social Research Foundation’s (SRF’s) 2024 national elections tracking poll provided the most accurate results prediction.

Its average deviation was within 1.1% of the final election results. It also predicted the rapid rise of former President Jacob Zuma’s MK party.

Other polls, including Ipsos, Mark Data, and The Economist, also predicted the ANC’s decline and the rise of MK.

The man behind the Social Research Foundation’s polling is Dr Frans Cronje, a political and economic advisor.

Cronje told Biznews that polling is a science, and if it is done right, it works well and gives a good overview of what to expect.

He said South Africa’s polling community was very good. It includes Bill Johnson’s Mark Data, Ipsos, and the Oppenheimer family’s Brenthurst initiative.

He credited Gareth van Onselen and Victory Research, which did much of the work for the Social Research Foundation’s polling.

“These guys must be the best in the world at this work, considering what they have achieved in South Africa’s 2024 election,” he said.

He said the ANC’s support declined by more than 15 percentage points, as the polling predicted. The same goes for MK’s rise.

“Victory Research deserve the credit. It has been one of the great successes of election polling of this era,” he said.

He also warned against political analysis done by unqualified people who are quoted in the media as experts.

“This industry needs to be professionalised. It’s not good enough to run around shouting all sorts of views with absolutely no basis, in fact, for those views,” Cronje said.

He said the success of the SRF, Ipsos, and Mark Data would hopefully become the standard to which everyone should aspire.

PartyResultSRFThe EconomistIpsosMark Data
Average deviation –1.1%1.7%1.8%1.9%

The reason for the ANC’s decline and the rise of MK

The ANC’s decline has been a long time coming, with widespread mismanagement and corruption at all levels of government.

State-owned enterprises and municipalities are failing, leaving South Africans without water, electricity, and other government services.

Apart from the obvious factors, Cronje said three things hurt the ANC at the ballot box.

  • President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the NHI Bill, which can hurt private healthcare.
  • The Constitutional Court ruled that Jacob Zuma can’t go to Parliament.
  • The incompetence of the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC).

Cronje said Ramaphosa’s NHI announcement sent the ruling party’s support into a tailspin. “They miscalculated horribly,” he said.

Instead of seeing national health insurance as a wider support of a social wage theme, it was an attack on people’s access to private medical professionals.

People from all sectors of society, including poor households, respect private healthcare. Through NHI, the ANC alienated the established and the aspirational middle class.

Another blow to the ANC was the  Constitutional Court ruling that Zuma could not stand for parliament.

It amplified the perception that the electoral authorities in South Africa were playing politics and that Zuma was being persecuted.

The ruling significantly increased MK’s support and awakened Zulu nationalism, which hurt the ANC’s support.

The third challenge was the IEC’s incompetence. Voting was difficult, so many people left without voting.

“Opposition voters, in the meantime, were more motivated than ANC voters, who were greatly disillusioned,” Cronje said.


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