“Respondents who correctly identified Sexwale’s profession were asked who they would prefer as president of South Africa, Zuma or Sexwale. Sixty four percent of respondents rejected both choices,” insights company Pondering Panda said in a statement.
The survey was conducted among 4 673 South Africans over the age of 18 and across all demographic groups last week.
It found that only 57% of the respondents knew that Sexwale, who is minister of human settlements, was a politician or a businessman.
“Eighteen percent thought he was a football player, 12% a comedian, and 6% said he was a judge.”
When the respondents who could identify Zuma and Sexwale were asked who they would want as president, 19% of respondents said Zuma.
Seventeen percent opted for Sexwale – who is reported to have presidential ambitions, although he has not confirmed this.
“There is no doubt that the incumbent president has a lot of work to do to ensure that he is more widely accepted by the youth of this country,” said Butch Rice, of Pondering Panda.
“The scores that he is currently achieving are too low and the lack of popularity could well translate into lost votes for the ANC in the next election.”
The ANC will hold its national conference at Mangaung in the Free State in December, when the president of the ANC will be elected.
Zuma and Sexwale are both rumoured to want the position. The president of the ANC is usually appointed as president of the country.
Rice said Sexwale needed to build his profile if he wanted the top spot.
“Also, if rumours are true and Sexwale does have designs on the presidency, he has an awful lot of work to do,” said Rice.
“There are too many young South Africans that don’t know who he is, what he does, or what he can offer the country.”
Consumer insights company Pondering Panda is a member of the World of Avatar group, which also owns MXit, Africa’s biggest mobile social network.