What we feel, warts and all

The FutureFact survey has been monitoring South African attitudes for 10 years—changes that have an impact on businesses, organisations, government and everyone’s lives. An upcoming conference will focus on the significant trends evident in the latest research. Here we preview those findings.

Feelings towards the rest of Africa and Africans
South Africans are concerned about the influx of immigrants into the country, regardless of whether they live in a township or in a suburb.
Around eight in 10 share this concern.

We also seem to suffer from a superiority complex, where around two-thirds believe we are superior to people in other parts of Africa and we should be looking after ourselves and not worry about the rest of Africa.

By contrast, 66% also believe we should be sending soldiers to keep the peace in other African countries. It would appear that people generally feel it is okay to assist African countries, as long as this does not affect us at home.

South Africans do not necessarily want the country to invite skilled labour from Africa into the country, but this is not necessarily a xenophobic sentiment towards Africans—when asked if we should bring in skilled labour from other parts of the world, 50% said yes.

South Africans will always be concerned about employment issues, particularly when there are so many who have qualifications but cannot find work (32%) or can find only unskilled work (35%).

In the 2006 FutureFact survey respondents were asked whether they agreed with this statement: ‘Most of the problems in South Africa are caused by illegal immigrants or foreigners.” Sixty-seven percent agreed, a substantial increase on a few years ago, when the figure was 47%. And it is reflected among all population sectors of the country.

FutureFact also put this satement to repondents: ‘Immigrants are a threat to jobs for South Africans and should not be allowed into South Africa”—with which 69% agreed. So it is clear that South Africans feel very threatened by foreigners because there is a real fear of a diminishing job market in an already difficult, high unemployment situation.

Attitudes toward leaving the country
While there is concern about the levels of emigration and particularly about the brain drain, almost six in 10 of those who are in the upper/upper middle classes have no desire to leave the country—though conversely a third are seriously thinking about it.

There is some feeling that while people have always been optimistic about South Africa, they are starting to lose hope—people do not want to leave the country but may consider it if things deteriorate.

When it comes to those with some post-matric education, 70% have no desire to leave the country and 23% are seriously thinking about it. (These class definitions are self-classifications where people believe that they fit on the class scale.)

Gloom but not doom
While many think that ‘everyone” in South Africa is disillusioned with the country, this is not true. Most respondents believe their quality of life has improved, that there are exciting opportunities and that instead of focusing on the negative we must not lose sight of the positive things happening in the country. This sentiment is felt across all the various classes.

The fourth FutureFact Conference will be held on July 24. It is titled South Africa: The 29th Day - Have We Reached Our Tipping Point? For more information, go to www.futurefact.co.za


Love and hate:
What we think about our country and Africa

Attitudes to Africa
Feelings about the rest of Africa and Africans.

How the question was answered by respondents who:

  • live in a township

  • live in a suburb




  • We should allow skilled people from other parts of Africa to work in South Africa ... live in a township 39% ... live in a suburb 41% (Total 41%)


  • I believe that, in general people from South Africa are superior to those from other parts of Africa ... live in a township 70% ... live in a suburb 64% (Total 66%)


  • South Africa should send soldiers to keep peace in troubled African countries ... live in a township 70% ... live in a suburb 65% (Total 66%)


  • South Africa should look after itself and its own people and not worry about the rest of Africa ... live in a township 63% ... live in a suburb 68% (Total 67%)


  • South Africa should severely limit immigration into the country from troubled African countries ... live in a township 76% ... live in a suburb 86% (Total 81%)





Attitudes to leaving South AfricaThose who strongly agreed:



How the question was answered by respondents who are ...

  • upper/upper middle class

  • middle class

  • working/lower class




  • Despite the problems here I have no desire to leave South Africa ... upper/upper middle class 58% ... middle class 65% ... working/lower class 66% (Total 63%)


  • I have always been optimistic about the future of South Africa but for the first time I am starting to lose hope for our country ... upper/upper middle class 41% ... middle class 27% ... working/lower class 35% (Total 32%)


  • I would consider emigrating if I am not happy about the future leader of the country ... upper/upper middle class 38% ... middle class 23% ... working/lower class 19% (Total 24%)


  • I am seriously considering leaving South Africa or emigrating from South Africa ... upper/upper middle class 31% ... middle class 19% ... working/lower class 17% (Total 20%)







Gloom but not doom.Those who agreed



How the question was answered by respondents who are ...

  • upper/upper middle class

  • middle class

  • working/lower class




  • We must not lose sight of all the good things happening in the country and only concentrate on the bad things ... upper/upper middle class 89% ... middle class 93% ... working/lower class 90% (Total 90%)


  • We have lots of exciting opportunities in this country that are not available elsewhere ... upper/upper middle class 92% ... middle class 92% ... working/lower class 88% (Total 90%)


  • While the government has made a lot of mistakes, it has done more good things for the country ... upper/upper middle class 90% ... middle class 90% ... working/lower class 87% (Total 89%)


  • My quality of life in SA is much better than it would be elsewhere ... upper/upper middle class 88% ... middle class 90% ... working/lower class 84% (Total 87%)





Source: KUPER RESEARCH

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