The formation of the Congress of the People (COPE) was greeted with strongly positive sentiment, compared to highly negative ratings for the African National Congress (ANC), latest media coverage shows, writes Jocelyn Newmarch in Business Day.


Research institute Media Tenor's analysis of October and November, when the split from the ANC was first announced, shows that the ANC received strongly negative coverage in the press but that these ratings improved in November.

International media also saw COPE as a positive development for SA, but Media Tenor MD Wadim Schreiner said it was too early to say that the international press supported COPE. During the period Media Tenor analysed, COPE had not yet launched as a political party and there was no information available on its policies, which would have allowed deeper analysis.

Rather, he likened COPE support to the "Obama effect", where anything that challenges a powerful majority is seen as a good thing.

In October, the volume of references to the ANC in local media was negative overall, with a -24,8% approval rating. COPE, which had just been announced, received a positive rating of 3%. But the ANC managed to improve its ratings in November, with a -13,4% rating. In the same period, COPE doubled its approval ratings to 6,4%.

From October to December, COPE achieved the highest approval ratings of any political party in SA, with positive ratings of 22%.

But there are indications that Jacob Zuma is a stronger party leader than Mosiuoa Lekota. According to Media Tenor, Zuma has progressively strengthened his leadership of the ANC.

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