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Survey date: March 2010

According to a survey commissioned by South African marketing research firm Acentric, 15% of the UK became aware for the first time this week, that Jacob Zuma was president of South Africa. While his visit created a substantial increase in awareness of various issues, the survey also highlighted the fact that South Africa’s overall reputation had not been compromised by the visit and that the UK public felt the media coverage had not been fair to the president.

“South Africa’s overall reputation score was not significantly different (from a statistical standpoint) when compared to a baseline survey conducted in the UK by Acentric in December 2009. So I don’t believe his state visit had a particularly negative impact on South Africa’s overall reputation as a country. However, it should be mentioned that the score was already low in December to start with.” says Craig Kolb, MD of Acentric Marketing Research Consulting.

While the UK press focused on Zuma’s personal life, especially the issues of promiscuity and polygamy, the majority of the UK public felt this was unfair. Only 9% of the UK public felt the UK media had been been fair to Zuma overall. Only 13% felt it was fair that the media focused on his polygamous practices and even fewer felt it was fair that the UK media focused on the promiscuity issue.

“While the UK public public clearly felt the focus on his private life was not justified, the opposite applies to the Zimbabwe issue. Only 2% believed it was right for Jacob Zuma to call for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe.” says Kolb.

Approximately 15% of the UK public only became aware that Jacob Zuma had multiple wives this past week. Besides the increase in awareness generated around his private life, his visit also increased awareness of the political issues – 11% becoming aware of divisions in the ruling party only this past week and 9% his call for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe.

“Another interesting factor was the word of mouth inspired by his visit. It doesn’t seem to have been an event people just ‘took note of’, there seems to have been quite a bit of discussion going on. Approximately 11% of the respondents noticed other people discussing Jacob Zuma that week.” says Kolb.

In total 128 individuals were surveyed within the United Kingdom. The results had a 7.6% margin of error (at a 95% confidence level) and are weighted to ensure demographic representation of the UK population.