Trust in the presidency of Cyril Ramaphosa has emerged as the biggest determining factor in voter preference for the governing party in South Africa as the country prepares for landmark elections on 8 May.
A three-year study conducted by the University of Johannesburg Centre for Social Development in Africa, published by today's Mail and Guardian says a solid 55 percent of respondents named Ramaphosa as the reason why they will vote for the ruling African National Congress - compared to Jacob Zuma's dismal 26 percent in a 2017 poll.
The CSDA survey found support for the Democratic Alliance dropping from 22 percent previously to 13 percent while the Economic Freedom Fighters are projected to score 9 percent - a 3 percent increase from the previous survey.
The publication also highlights finding by the study that most potential voters are warming up to Ramaphosa's "new dawn" and pinning their hopes on his ability to bring into the fold citizens who had turned their backs to the ruling party.
More than 26.7 million voters are eligible to cast ballots in the process to elect a new National Assembly and provincial legislatures in each of the country's 9 province.
Ramaphosa will be leading the ruling ANC into an election for the first time, one year after replacing graft-tainted Jacob Zuma who was forced to resign from office on 14 February 2018, one year before the end of his second 5-year term.
Conflict of interest
Yet, the fine breeze of "Ramaphoria" linked to the ANC in this election year, comes at a time of turbulence for the party's new leader. Ramaphosa is under mounting pressure to explain a R500, 000 "donation" he received from the CEO of the controversial firm Bosasa during his campaign for the ANC presidency last year.
Ramaphosa's son Andile has also admitted accepting "consultancy work" worth R2m from the company according to News24.
Bosasa is said to have received billions of rand in government tenders over the past decade.
Notwithstanding the bumps on the ANC's road to the elections, CSDA Director and co-author of the study Professor Leila Patel, discussed the findings with Mail and Guardian.
She told the publication that the ANC's leadership change appeared to have "bolstered trust in Ramaphosa, making him a significant predictor to voter friendly behaviour".
The incumbent carries a lot of legitimacy across the political spectrum, says journalist Jacques Coetzee, who produced the front-page article for the Mail and Guardian.
"It will be interesting to take the pulse of the public today as Ramaphosa's record of radical changes like land reform and attracting foreign investments at the same time stands in stark contrast with the corruption vehicles that became the norm under Jacob Zuma", argues Coetzee.
According to the M&G journalist, he's been playing his cards very well, and gaining support from the general public and making the opposition parties irrelevant.
DA's gloomy future
He holds that the Democratic Alliance's campaign since 2009, revolved around getting Zuma out of power by denouncing corruption and maladministration.
For Jacques Coetzee, "since he left, they've got very little to stand for, really", apart just being very lacklustre, all over the place and looking quite confused about important issues"
He described the Economic Freedom Fighters as "too radical for a lot of the public despite their very loud voice".
PARIS LIVE Focus on Africa 10 04 2019 10/04/2019 Listen