Case Study: State of the Nation South Africa

GeoPoll and TNS conducted an SMS survey on perceptions of the State of the Nation


The 2015 State of the Nation Address by President Zuma in South Africa received significant media attention, both in the lead up and especially when several Members of Parliament walked out on the speech in protest of Zuma. After beginning his speech, Zuma was heckled by members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, who demanded to know when he would pay back government funds that had been used to upgrade his own estate. EFF members were then removed by security, and later in the speech all 89 members of another opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, walked out on the speech.

With several other major issues surrounding the speech, including a weakening economy and unreliable power grid, TNS and GeoPoll wanted to get the opinions of ordinary South Africans immediately following the speech.


An SMS-based mobile survey was conducted amongst 1,100 South African adults the day following the address. The sample was nationally representative by age, gender, and province. This data was combined with insights TNS collected from monitoring other social media channels including Twitter around the SONA address.


85% of respondents reported watching or following the speech live, and opinions were split on the outcome, with roughly half (52%) feeling satisfied that the State of the Nation Address was “good” or “very good”, and slightly less (47%) saying they have confidence in the government to accomplish what President Zuma promised.

The outcome held true across most provinces, with exceptions in Mpumalanga, where feelings were mostly positive, with 46% saying the speech was “very good”, and in Limpopo, where a third said the speech was “very good”. In the Western Cape, where the Democratic Alliance is strong, 34% of those who viewed the speech said it was “not good at all”.

Adults between the ages of 25-35 were more interested in the speech than the total population, with 89% reporting watching the speech. Reactions to the speech were also split by age, with 35% of those 45+ saying the speech was “not good at all” compared to only 9% of those between 18-24 years old. The study also asked about main topics that South Africans recalled from the speech, finding that 52% of those who watched remembered electricity challenges as one of the key points Zuma addressed. 45% remembered wages as a main topic, and 38% recalled Zuma’s address of education issues. The survey demonstrated the polarized nature of the views of ordinary South Africans, and the issues most important to them.