Survey reveals pessimism over race relations in SA

Only half of South Africans in a nationwide survey felt race relations were better today than under apartheid, according to a report released on Wednesday.

It also revealed that 46% of those questioned still said they never socialised with people of other races in their own homes, or homes of friends.

One in four said that on a “typical day during the week” they never spoke to people of other races.

The report, the annual South African Reconciliation Barometer, was compiled by the Cape Town-based Institute for Justice and Reconciliation.

It was based on questions put to what the institute said was a nationally representative sample of 3 500 people in the two months leading up to this year’s April general election.

Its authors said the levels of inter-racial contact had remained “relatively static” since the survey was first conducted in 2003.

“While this is symptomatic of a lack of progress in social integration, it also speaks to continued physical separation and exclusion,” they said.

They said the surveys had, over recent years, found “receding levels of confidence in a range of public institutions, less trust in political leadership, and worsening evaluations of the performance of government”.

This was likely due to the political fluidity and economic insecurity of recent years.

The report said that between 2006 and 2009, confidence that leaders could be trusted to “do what is right” most of the time had dropped by 15% to the current level of 50%.

Agreement that the country was “going in the right direction” had dropped by 26% over the same period.

Public confidence in Parliament had also continued to decline between 2006 and 2009, falling by 3% in 2008 to 53% this year.

Nonetheless, 60% still agreed that Parliament could usually be trusted to make decisions that were right for the country as a whole.

The survey had also revealed that a growing number of respondents—58%—agreed that courts should rule in accordance with the Constitution, even if that contradicted what most South Africans wanted.—Sapa

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