JOHANNESBURG - As South Africa's democracy icon Nelson Mandela was being laid to rest on Sunday, an opinion poll showed his political heir Jacob Zuma losing support over claims of self-enrichment.
A survey conducted for the Sunday Times newspaper showed 51 percent of registered voters of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) want Zuma to resign as he seemingly battles to fill the deceased statesman's shoes.
The results of the survey conducted by the Ipsos market research company comes in the same week that Zuma was booed at a memorial service for Mandela in Soweto.
Of the 1,000 ANC voters polled in a representative survey, 33 percent said they were less likely to vote for the ANC over allegations that Zuma used public money to upgrade his luxury private residence to the tune of some $20 million.
Forty-two percent said they believed he had abused taxpayer funds.
On Tuesday, South Africans booed their president at a memorial service attended by tens of thousands of people for Mandela, whose legacy is one of selflessness and sacrifice.
Many of those who jeered later spoke of their disillusionment and anger at Zuma's lifestyle at a time that many South Africans remain poor, unemployed, and without formal housing in a society that is among the world's most unequal.
Zuma's immediate predecessor Thabo Mbeki, though unpopular at the time of his party ouster by Zuma in 2008, received a warm welcome at the memorial.
Mbeki, who succeeded Mandela as president in 1999, on Sunday challenged South Africa's leadership to ask if they were living up to Mandela's standards, in a pointed public challenge to his ANC comrades.
"I think to celebrate his life properly we need to ask ourselves a question about the quality of leadership," Mbeki told a prayer gathering in Johannesburg.
The ANC under Zuma has come under increasing fire over claims of nepotism and corruption.
The party is preparing for national elections next year.
Despite growing disgruntlement, the party retains a firm grip on power on the back of its historic status as the liberator of a long-oppressed people, and will likely retain a large majority.
The ANC had claimed the booing was orchestrated by other political parties.