The Activist Supporters is the eighth group to be explored in Brand South Africa’s behavioural group series. If everything is to be in a name, then this group is well represented therein, seeing that activism is, according to them, the best way to get government to listen. But, do not expect to find them on the streets at every protest, no, they will generally support social and political activism, and only get personally involved in select actions. This group is willing to take matters into their own hands to make things work.

At some level there is acknowledgement of successful change, but at another there is sympathy for those who struggle to for change but do not succeed. They recognise the government’s social interventions, but they also believe that a lot more should have been done in the past two decades. Confronted with unabated social distress, unemployment, volatility and fractured social relations in their communities, they believe that activism and violent protest hold more promise than the electoral process. While they may tend to support violent protest, they do recognise the risks such alternatives pose to their  employment and personal security. This ambivalence undermines the group’s identity and motivation to act. There is a stronger sense of mutual support among one another, and they have a willingness to engage across race and language groups. Although they believe services from government are adequate, they are unlikely to support any political party simply because of that. Stronger levels of support than average are seen for opposition parties. Activist Supporters demonstrate a low affinity with ‘being South African,’ and a mere 64% constitute as Proudly South African.

They are made up of a slightly higher proportion of employed (54%) and well educated South Africans, and further, a higher than average representation of the employed within the formal sector at 30% of the group. The group has a higher than average level of trust in President Cyril Ramaphosa, at 70% of the group, and high confidence in the Economic Freedom Fighter’s (EFF) leader, Julius Malema at 34%. Activist Supporters tend to trust the government more than civil society, media or the private sector. As a group they are involved in the improvement of communities with a higher than average “strong Active Citizenship” profile, and feel closer to fellow South Africans than the national average.

The key characteristic is that these communities experience a higher level of service from government, but have also taken steps to ensure services are delivered, taking action where necessary to improve circumstances for themselves. However, they themselves are quite reluctant to get involved in these activities but will help in other ways. Members have a marginal sense of belonging in South Africa and a relative disregard for traditional culture and values. Religion is important, and a way in which compassion is endorsed and supported, but mainly at the level of the individual and not the community. They demonstrate a distrust of formal organisation and low levels of community engagement. Activist Supporters are overrepresented in the fully employed, tertiary educated and higher income categories.

This group is made up of 13% of the population. The group has a strong presence in the metro regions of the country with a skew towards Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape, but also well represented in other provinces although a little less so. An important difference is the increased representation by Coloured and White population groups with a slightly below par representation by Black South Africans although still by far the majority. The Nguni home language group displays very strongly and has a male bias who make up 51% of this group. The group is below the benchmark amongst Whites and Coloureds, on par amongst Indians and somewhat above parity in the Black group. By age, the group roughly reflects the national norm except for the 25–34 group, where it is notably stronger.

Behavioural Group Research Methodology

Survey classification Description
Research conducted by African Response and MarkData
Confidentiality Respondent information is kept confidential and in line with ESOMAR Code of Conduct practices
Survey dates The survey was administered between October and November 2019
Sample size n = 2 500, a final sample of 2 506 realised
Sample selection Multi-staged stratified random design using StastSA 2018 mid-year population estimates
Margin of error 0.097 at 95% confidence level
Data collection methodology Face-to-face in-home interviews on Computer Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI) devices
Weighting of data Weighted, using RIM weight methodology. Weight efficiency was 87%
Reporting Weighted, percentages are rounded


Brand South Africa’s Research Notes and Research Reports communicate findings from Brand South Africa research and related panel discussions. The Research Notes and Reports are intended to elicit comments, contribute to debate, and inform stakeholders about trends and issues that impact on South Africa’s reputation and overall competitiveness. Views expressed in Research Notes are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of Brand South Africa, or the Government of the Republic of South Africa. Every precaution is taken to ensure the accuracy of information. However, Brand South Africa shall not be liable to any person for inaccurate information or opinions contained herein.

Contact: Dr. Petrus de Kock, Brand South Africa, General Manager – Research +27 11 –712 5000 petrusd@brandsouthafrica.com