Saints or Sinners: Public Evaluations of Post-Apartheid South African Presidents


  • Jamy Felton University of Cape Town, Institute for Democracy, Citizenship, Public Policy in Africa



cognitive awareness, identity, performance evalucognitive awareness, performance evaluations, presidential approval, South Africaations, South Africa


This study investigates the nature of public evaluations of the presidents of post-apartheid South Africa. It consists of multivariate analyses which tests competing theories. Using IDASA (Institute for Democracy in South Africa) and Afrobarometer data from 1997, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2015, the article tests identity, performance evaluation and cognitive awareness theories to determine which factors predict approval levels of the president. Findings indicate that South Africans are more likely to make use of performance evaluation when ascribing support than to use their cognitive awareness of current affairs. There is an indication that South Africans who share an identity with the president are more likely to approve of the president -- especially in recent years. However, South Africans are rational people who are more likely to base their approval of the president on how the government performs and how they perceive the economy.



How to Cite

Felton, Jamy. 2017. “Saints or Sinners: Public Evaluations of Post-Apartheid South African Presidents”. Politeia 36 (1):24 pages.
Received 2017-09-28
Accepted 2017-09-28
Published 2018-02-06