Too much infighting, instead of fixing SA: Citizens rebuke leaders

11 July 2019 - 13:11 By timeslive
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Political parties are losing public trust for squabbling rather than dealing with burning challenges, while the once squeaky-clean SA Revenue Service (SARS) and the public protector's office are also falling short in the eyes of the public.

This is according to the June insights from the South African Citizens Survey, released on Thursday.

Less than half of voters went to the polls in this year’s national and provincial elections, with many giving various reasons for not voting. Citizen Surveys, which conducts the research, said it tested these reasons among a nationally-representative sample of South Africans.

An analysis of the data revealed:

● 82% agree that political parties keep fighting each other and are not solving the problems facing South Africa.

● 69% agree that political parties cannot be trusted to keep their election promises.

● 74% agree that most politicians are corrupt and, therefore, cannot be trusted.

● 78% agree that political parties just want their vote and that afterwards, they will do whatever they want.

Reza Omar, strategic research director at Citizen Surveys, commented that from the survey's findings: “It is clear that South Africans are frustrated with political parties not keeping their election promises, corrupt politicians, subsequent to voting being ignored by the political establishment, and the constant bickering between political parties and factionalism within the parties when there are so many priority problems that need to be urgently addressed.

"In effect, South Africans want progress in solving South Africa’s most important problems: unemployment, crime, poverty and destitution, the housing crisis and corruption.”

The survey showed that trust in the public protector's office dropped from 58% in April to 53% in June.

“This drop of 5% over a three-month period is not surprising, considering the amount of political commentary regarding the national elections and state of the nation address (Sona) that occurred between the months of April and June," said Omar.

"It is, however, concerning that only just over half of South Africans trust the public protector, whose mandate is to strengthen constitutional democracy [by investigating, rectifying, and redressing any improper or prejudicial conduct in state affairs], particularly since President (Cyril) Ramaphosa promised a crackdown on corruption during the elections,” added Omar.

Another public institution losing the trust of the South African public is Sars, which fell from 61% in April to 58% in June.

“Trust in Sars reached an all-time low in 2018, corresponding with the beginning of the Nugent Commission of Inquiry and the revelations about the cost of state capture. Trust improved over the election period, however, in June, trust in Sars was once again on the decline," said Omar.

"South Africans who have been battered by a contracting economy and have been stretching their budgets are once again going to be asked to dig deeper. Given that there is likely to be a shortfall in tax collection, and a greater need for tax compliance, restoring high levels of trust in Sars is critical. Implementing the recommendations of the Nugent Commission of Inquiry and appointing a new commissioner to head the institution may go a long way to help rebuild trust in Sars.”

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