Almost half (46%) of South Africans believe that our constitution is the basic law of the land and should not be changed. This is according to results from Ipsos' “Pulse of the People” poll, conducted between April and May this year.
“With recent calls for changes to section 25 of the Constitution, the debate around constitutional changes has been a topic of contemplation for many South Africans,” states Mari Harris, Public Affairs Director at Ipsos. Sixteen percent believe the constitution could be changed, with almost three in ten (28%) being neutral on the subject, and 10% not knowing.
Consequences of changes
“There are clearly mixed opinions with reference to changing the constitution and the changes it will effect in South Africa,” states Harris. A significant portion (41%) of the population believes that changing the constitution will limit the freedom of South Africans. This view is slightly more pronounced among the DA supporters (46%) as opposed to ANC supporters (42%).
On the flip side, just over a third (33%) believes that the constitution as it stands is slowing down transformation in the country. This belief is significantly more prevalent among ANC supporters (37%) than DA supporters (30%) and DA supporters showed a much stronger inclination away from this statement, with 29% disagreeing that it's slowing down transformation.
“This view that the constitution is hampering transformation is likely influenced by numerous requests to change some aspects of it by the ANCYL and NUMSA, as well as significant writing on the subject in the SA media over the past year,” comments Harris.
Almost half (48%) of ANC's supporters are of the opinion that if they want to, the ANC is able to make changes to the constitution. A far smaller portion (25%) of the DA believes this and 41% of the general population agree that the ANC can make the changes if it wants to.
“ANC supporters are very aware of the dominance of their party and the power it carries to change the basic law of the land,” states Harris. Thirty-two percent are neutral and 12% do not know if the ANC can make the changes if they want to.
Please state if you agree or disagree/are neutral or don't know in reference to the following statements:
Our constitution is the basic law of the land and should not be changed.
Changing the constitution will limit the freedom of South Africans.
The ANC can change the constitution if they want to.
The constitution is slowing down transformation in South Africa.
* Fieldwork was carried out from 13 April to 18 May 2012 by trained and experienced fieldworkers.
* Face-to-face in-home interviews were conducted with a randomly chosen sample of 3 565 South Africans, 15 years and older, in the language preferred by the respondent.
* The results were weighted and projected to the universe (ie, adult South Africans).
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