Analysis: South Africa falls behind ahead of election  

South Africa lags behind in the World Citizenship Report (WCR) just before a crucial election.

In groundbreaking new research released in the CS Global Partners World Citizenship Report, South Africa has fallen to the bottom half of the 188 countries studied for the report.  

This data comes as South Africans head to the polls on 29 May. Voters will exert their electoral responsibilities amid rapid changes gripping the country and world.  

Diaspora voting commences

The South African diaspora has already participated in the electoral process; 78,000 citizens voted between 17 and 18 May, in 111 South African missions worldwide.  

In the United Kingdom, the mission stayed open an additional day, 19 May to allow the 24,000 citizens registered at the mission to vote there. 

South Africa’s precarious political situation

World Citizenship Report South Africa Vote

In the CS Global Partners World Citizenship Report, South Africa was ranked 119 overall. This is a striking drop from last year’s report, in which South Africa was ranked 75 of 188 countries. 

This poor showing comes amid a precarious moment for the ruling African National Congress party, which could lose its majority status which it has enjoyed since 1994.  

According to Chatham House, most polls indicate that the ruling party would lose its majority but gain enough support to still maintain a leading role in national governance. 

If party support falls below 50%, the party may enter into coalition with other parties. This would be South Africa’s first coalition government. 

In the event of a coalition government, current president Cyril Ramaphosa would need to govern alongside leaders from other parties.  

It is also possible, albeit unlikely, that the African National Congress party would lose its governing majority without enough support to form a coalition.  

South Africa scores low on WCR safety, economics metrics

The World Citizenship Report measures 188 countries across five motivators that global citizens care most about – Safety and Security, Economic Opportunity, Quality of Life, Global Mobility and Financial Freedom.  

The country scored most poorly in the Safety and Security and Economic Opportunity motivators of citizenship.  

These two issues are fundamentally important in an election year, in which voters will consider if their relative safety and standard of living is better or worse than under previous leadership.  

In this year’s edition, South Africa was ranked 126 for Safety and Security. Last year, South Africa was ranked 86 for Safety and Security, making its 2024 ranking a 40-point drop. 

BBC Africa reported that there were 27,400 murders in South Africa last year, a 20-year high.  

Similarly, South Africa was ranked 119 in Economic Opportunity this year. Last year, the country ranked 52 for Economic Opportunity, making its 2024 ranking a 67-point drop.  

With a high unemployment rate of 33% and youth unemployment of 50%, the country has struggled to maintain economic viability, particularly for its youngest generations. 

Potential for growth

The country did well in the Global Mobility and Financial Freedom motivators, ranked #66 and #85, respectively.  

There is potential for South Africa to score higher in next year’s report. This depends on whether the country makes strides to improve safety, economic growth and living standards.   

The election is sure to bring sweeping change to South Africa and to the South African diaspora. The CS Global Partners WCR offers a deep analysis of citizenship, including citizenship and residency advisory, for globally-minded South Africans. 

Click here for the full World Citizenship Report.