Brenthurst Survey Shows Vast Majority of South Africans Condemn Russia
The government appears to be at odds with the vast majority of South Africans when it comes to a range of issues, from the Russian invasion of Ukraine to the country’s global alignment, a new survey of voters has found.
A survey conducted on behalf of The Brenthurst Foundation has found that 74.3% of South Africans believe that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is “an act of aggression that must be condemned” while only 12.7% believe it is “an acceptable use of force”.
This suggests that the South African government, which has refused to condemn the invasion and has even embarked on joint military exercises with Russia, is hopelessly out of touch with its voters, who believe that the country should be offering moral, diplomatic and even military support to democracies that are invaded by their neighbours.
The survey also showed that three-quarters of ANC voters — around 74% — agreed that the Russian invasion was “an act of aggression that must be condemned” while only 14% of ANC voters said it was “an acceptable use of force”.
The ANC’s Youth League has actively supported Russia, visiting occupied Ukraine to “observe” the sham referendums that were held in the occupied territories. Khulekani Skosana, a league official who participated in the observation mission, said: “We will go back home and tell our people this has been a beautiful, wonderful process.”
The South African government then abstained from voting on a UN resolution condemning the sham referenda. The resolution was passed with 143 countries voting in favour. South Africa was among 35 countries that abstained.
This is, again, totally at odds with the views of ordinary South African voters. Asked what South Africa should do if a sovereign democratic country is invaded by its neighbour, 32.6% said “offer moral support”, 27.3% said “offer military support” and a further 22.6% said “offer diplomatic support”. Only 7.9% said South Africa should “offer no support”.
Explaining why South Africa had abstained from voting on UN resolutions condemning the Russian invasion, International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor said: “South Africa, countries on the Continent and several other members of the Global South who are affected by the conflict, have sought to assert their independent, non-aligned views on the matter.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa even went so far as to blame Nato for the Russian invasion, saying: “The war could have been avoided if Nato had heeded the warnings from amongst its own leaders and officials over the years that its eastward expansion would lead to greater, not less, instability in the region.”
Joint naval exercise
And in early November, South Africa concluded arrangements for a joint naval exercise with Russia and China set for February.
But South Africa’s flirtation with Russia and China also appears to be at odds with the views of ordinary South Africans on these countries.
The survey showed that South Africans identify with western countries and countries on the African continent far more than they admire Russia and China. Asked “If you were to leave South Africa, which country would you choose to go to?”, 51.9% cited Western countries, 16.6% said other African countries while only 4.1% said Russia, 3.6% said China and 2.4% fellow BRICS partner India.
The view on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine syncs with the finding that most (51.5%) South Africans surveyed believe that the ANC government of the past three decades is responsible for the problems facing South Africa, while only 8.8% blame apartheid, 7.4% racists, 3.3% the BEE elite and just 0.6% the Democratic Alliance.
The survey was conducted between 27 October and 10 November 2022 using in-depth 15-minute telephone interviews of a representative 1,000-strong group of South Africans by the SABI Strategy Group on behalf of The Brenthurst Foundation.
Full results of the election survey will be released later this week.