In 2009 the African National Congress (ANC) won their fourth successive term as South Africa’s ruling party. Consequentially, this meant that their party leader, Jacob Zuma, became South Africa’s fourth democratic president. Prior to his appointment, the South African news media was rife with criticism of Zuma over his recent rape charges, his views of women, his polygamous beliefs, and his involvement in the South African Arms Deal Saga, yet was often referred to as "the populist". Fast forward to Nelson Mandela's memorial service in December 2013, and suddenly the crowd is singin a different tune. Every time President Zuma took the stage, boos echoed through the stadium.
This introduces an interesting question about the South African people and the way they shape their evaluations of presidents. Is it based upon who the president is (their identity), how their government has performed, or what South Africans know or see? My thesis is a quantitative study using IDASA and Afrobarometer data to test three competing hypotheses (Identity, Performance Evaluation and Cognitive Awareness) in trying to explain how South Africans shape their evaluations of their president between 1997 and 2011.