Home News SAMNET’s Third Electoral Survey: Understanding Political Sentiments Across South Africa

SAMNET’s Third Electoral Survey: Understanding Political Sentiments Across South Africa

by Thaabit Kamaar

Durban -South Africa is getting ready for yet another national election. In a little over a month, it will mark a crucial moment as the African National Congress (ANC) faces the potential of losing its majority.

In recent times, the ANC’s traditional support base has weakened against evolving political landscapes, internal rifts, corruption, and dissatisfaction with public services. Conversely, challenges within opposition parties haven’t necessarily inspired greater voter confidence.

Interestingly, however, this election campaign has witnessed a notable shift in political parties’ focus towards marginalised and minority groups, such as Muslims and other communities.

Notably, the Muslim community is emerging as a significant electoral force, particularly in key provinces. The motivation for this shift is, in essence, one of the central issues shaping this election: Israel’s genocidal actions in Gaza and their escalating violence and occupation of Palestine.

South Africa’s Muslim population, like many worldwide, has consistently stood in solidarity with Palestinians, protesting against Israeli actions and expressing support on social media platforms.

Consequently, political parties advocating for Palestinian rights and critiquing Israeli policies are finding resonance within the Muslim community. At the same time, those perceived as indifferent or supportive of Israel may encounter contempt and scepticism.

Despite diverse domestic issues and grievances with the ANC, its positive stance has garnered substantial support. Conversely, the Democratic Alliance, as the official opposition, faces a potential loss of voter support due to its contrasting stance on Palestine. Numerous other parties find themselves in a similar predicament.

Although the Muslim community constitutes a minority, Dr Faisal Suliman of the South African Muslim Network (SAMNET) believes this shift in political attention highlights parties’ recognition that minority support could significantly influence the election outcome.

“In this particular election, two and three seats are going to be quite important. Therefore, they’re chasing not the Muslim vote, only they are chasing every possible constituency.”

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SAMNETS Electoral Survey 2024

The 2024 survey marks the third iteration conducted by SAMNET, following similar initiatives in 2014 and 2019. According to their website, this year’s survey aims to assess the viewpoints of Muslims and people from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds on topics such as the forthcoming elections, perceptions of political parties, and engagement in various societal frameworks.

“The idea is to compare some of the data to see whether there have been changes since the last election and how Muslims think, although the survey is not confined to Muslims. It’s open to absolutely everybody,” said Suliman.

The survey explores the breadth of political perspectives within the Muslim community and the broader public. The insights gathered will facilitate understanding, enabling the identification and implementation of initiatives to enhance public engagement in elections and other political activities.

As such, participation from all is strongly encouraged, with the closing date set for May 5. The survey guarantees complete anonymity by refraining from soliciting names and ID numbers. However, it will request demographic information like postal codes.

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