South Africans fed up with politicians, want unity: report

12 December 2017 - 11:59 By Timeslive
South Africans still want unity - despite income inequality and a lack of interracial engagement.
South Africans still want unity - despite income inequality and a lack of interracial engagement.
Image: 123rf/ rawpixe

Inter-racial marriage makes us a tad nervous but most South Africans are willing to engage with each other across the race divide‚ the 2017 SA Reconciliation Barometer Survey reveals.

The wide gap between rich and poor gets a big thumbs down‚ and politicians don't impress us much.

These insights are contained in the barometer‚ released by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in Cape Town on Tuesday.

Six out of every ten South Africans indicated that they are open to more interaction with people from other race groups in public and private spaces. One in four South Africans were open to more interaction with people from other race groups in certain spaces but not in others. Only 14% are not open to any further interaction with people from other race groups.

"These majorities are‚ however‚ in some instances not overwhelming. Approval of interracial marriage (52%) is the lowest‚ followed by approval of integration in neighbourhoods (53%)."

Engaging with doctors‚ teachers and bosses "from least-associated with groups" is generally fine.

The least interracial interaction occurs at private homes with 52% of South Africans reporting they rarely or never interact with people from other race groups in their personal living space.

Interaction is also limited in public areas‚ with 46.6% rarely or never interacting at social gatherings; and 46% rarely or never interacting in public recreational spaces.

The highest degree of interracial interaction occurs in commercial spaces‚ such as malls or shops and work and study places.

Three in ten South Africans attest that nothing prevents them from having more interaction with people from other race groups.

For 16.9%‚ language barriers represent the greatest barriers‚ followed by confidence (15.3%).

Only 8% of South Africans report that fear/anxiety was the biggest barrier for interacting with people from other race groups‚ followed closely by the percentage of South Africans who report having no common ground (7.9%) and no opportunities to talk and engage (7.8%).

Only 7.4% of South Africans cite negative prior experiences‚ and only 6.4% cite their unwillingness to talk and engage‚ as the primary reason for not interacting with people from other race groups.

Two in every ten (20.7%) South Africans reported that racism affects their daily lives ‘always’ or ‘often’ in the workplace or place of study; 19% of South Africans reported experiencing racism always or often in commercial and retail spaces‚ 17% in public recreational spaces‚ 15% at social gatherings and events‚ and 14% on public transport.

Should racism occur‚ half of the people surveyed (52%) found it more difficult to confront strangers who behaved in a racist manner than acquaintances. This sentiment cuts across all the population groups‚ with the exception of South Africans of Indian/Asian origin.

The barometer added: "Respondents found it least difficult to confront racist behaviour and talk from a colleague."

To address the language barriers in racial interaction‚ the report recommends that: "A starting point for further interaction can be promoting multilingualism more actively."

The percentage of South Africans agreeing that a united South Africa is desirable in 2017 reached 75.3%.

Most feel it is possible to achieve this too. Only 56% of South Africans‚ however‚ agree that South Africa has made progress in reconciliation since the end of apartheid.

The “gap between rich and poor” is ranked as the biggest source of division by the barometer respondents in 2017.

Confidence in institutions in 2017 is the lowest it has been since 2006 in Parliament‚ national government and provincial government.

The SARB 2017’s data shows that confidence in the ANC at the time of surveying was also low – with only 33% of South Africans reporting that they have ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of confidence in the ANC‚ while 49.8% of South Africans report they feel close to the ANC over a long period of time.

The main opposition parties expected to contend the 2019 national election include the DA and the EFF‚ in which 23.5% and 19.1% of South Africans have confidence respectively.

Notably‚ 25‚6% of South Africans do not feel close to any political party.

"This finding is coupled with low voting and political efficacy levels‚ with more than half of voting-age South Africans (55.6%) surveyed by the SA Reconciliation Barometer agreeing with the statement that ‘Voting is meaningless because no politician can be trusted’."

"This holds implications of the national elections in 2019‚ as well as for reconciliation processes which are more likely to thrive in societies where democratic political culture exists‚" the report states.


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