In assessing the health of democracies, it is impossible to ignore citizen trust in public institutions. Trust is a cornerstone of democratic legitimacy, triggering citizens’ willingness to contribute to a strong and robust democracy: Citizens who trust their government are more willing to listen and render support to government policies aimed at improving the country (Government Communication and Information System, 2014).
With South Africa facing economic difficulties and corruption scandals, at the time of the latest Afrobarometer survey in August-September 2015, could have contributed to a dramatic drop in public trust of political leaders.
Survey findings show that citizens’ trust in the president has dropped by almost half from 2011, and is second-lowest level since the first survey in 2000. Trust in members of Parliament (MPs), premiers, local government councils, the ruling party, and opposition parties has also declined dramatically, making political leaders the least-trusted public officials in the country. Furthermore, trust in the president is lower than in any of the other 17 institutions and leaders that the survey asked about.
For more information, please refer to the Afrobarometer Dispatch No. 90.