Survey: Attitudes of South Africans in the Run Up to Elections | Freedom House

A new Freedom House survey finds that 47 percent of South Africans between the ages of 18 and 34 may not vote in national and provincial elections on May 7. The survey, conducted via mobile phones from March 17-24, also finds that nearly two in three of those surveyed do not understand how South Africa’s proportional representation system works.


  • 53 percent of those surveyed say yes, I am definitely voting” in this year’s elections. 34 percent say they will not vote, while 13 percent are undecided.
  • The percentages of those intending to vote are similar in the 18-24 and 25-34 age brackets. Kwa-Zulu Natal (63.5 percent) records the highest number of people intending to vote, Limpopo (47.3 percent) the lowest.
  • 60 percent of respondents do not understand the proportional representation (PR) electoral system used for national and provincial elections. Amongst those not planning to vote, 72 percent says they do not understand PR.
  • A majority of those surveyed were not aware that they had a Member of Parliament (53 percent) or a Member of the Provincial Legislature (MPL) (55 percent) representing them. Of those aware of these representatives, most said that their MP had not visited or spoken in their community.
  • Young South Africans’ preferred method of receiving information on elections is via mobile phones: 26 percent of people intending to vote prefer to receive information via phones, mobile internet and apps. Watching television, computer-based internet and radio are the next three most popular choices.
  • Asked how people make their voice heard, 36 percent responded that they use social media like Facebook, Twitter and Mxit. Attendance at political group meetings and going to municipality offices were each cited by 21 percent. Another 28 percent said that they had not done anything to make their voices heard.

The survey of 1,288 persons, conducted by the Pondering Panda polling organization via the Mxit social media network, has a margin of error of 3 percent. All respondents were between the ages of 18-34. 50 percent of respondents were male and 50 percent female. 81 percent of respondents were black, 9 percent white, 8 percent coloured and 2 percent Indian/Asian.