TimesLIVE reported that a vast majority of South Africans approve of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, despite growing hunger, loss of human rights and anxiety.
These were among the findings of an online multilingual Covid-19 Democracy Survey by the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) conducted in April and May.
The report on the survey stated: “This report is based on 12,312 completed questionnaires. Findings have been weighted to match Statistics SA data on race, education and age, and can be regarded as broadly representative of the population at large. The distribution by gender was even and did not require weighting.”
Ramaphosa’s performance was rated as either very good or good by 84% of South Africans for the period April 13-May 11. His score was highest between April 27-May 11, coming in at 89%.
Three quarters (78%) of the public are willing to sacrifice their human rights if it helps to control the spread of the virus, the research shows.
The police received the following scorecard. In phase 1, April 13-18, 49% of respondents said the police were doing either a good or very good job, while 22% said they were doing a bad job (the rest did not know or said neither a good nor bad job); from April 18-27, 53% of respondents said the police were doing a good or really good job, while 18% said they were doing a bad job; from April 27-May 11, 52% said they were doing a good or very good job, while 19% said they were doing a bad job; Over the whole reporting period (April 13-May 11), the score was 51% good, 20% bad.
Hunger has been increasing during lockdown: In the first phase of the survey (between April 13-18) 33% of the public reported going to bed hungry, and by phase 3 (April 27-May 13) this had increased to 43%.
The survey asked the question, “To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement”: “I believe the threat from the coronavirus is exaggerated”. For April 13-18, 33% were in total agreement, while 35% disagreed; for April 18-27, 34% agreed while 42% disagreed; for April 27-May 11, 31% agreed while 42% disagreed. For the total period (April 13-May 11), 33% agreed, while 39% disagreed.
Sixty percent of South Africans are frequently stressed and 46% are scared. About a third (33%) are depressed. As a benchmark, depression has been clinically measured at between 18% and 27% in less unusual times, so it is likely that there has been an appreciable increase, the survey authors state.
Fifty-three percent of those surveyed are concerned that “the worst is yet to come” with coronavirus infections in SA.